The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Toxicity

July 14, 2017

Hormone Disruptors in Boxed Mac & Cheese and Other Processed Cheeses

Are there phthalates in these cheese powders? There could be.

Since going plastic-free, I generally avoid processed, packaged foods.  So I haven’t enjoyed the Day-Glo orange of Kraft Mac & Cheese in years.  (Yeah, I used to live on that stuff in the 80’s and 90’s, with extra cheese added because, despite the advertising claims, it really isn’t the “cheesiest.”)

But the other day, Michael brought home a box of organic quinoa mac & cheese that someone had left on the curb as a freebie, and I thought maybe I’d go ahead and have it, its being free and all.

And then yesterday, I read that a new study commissioned by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging has found phthalates — a type of hormone-disrupting chemical found in plastics — in 29 of 30 cheese products they tested.  Cheese powders from boxed mac & cheese had four times higher levels of phthalates… Read the rest

April 11, 2014

Why You Should Sign My Petition — Even If You Don’t Own a Vita-Mix Blender

If you haven’t yet signed and shared the Vitamix petition I created and blogged about last October because you don’t own one of these high speed blenders and don’t plan to buy one, here are a few reasons to sign and share it anyway.

I myself don’t own a Vita-Mix.  As I gushed last September, I’m in love with my Waring Pro with its all glass and metal pitcher.  My blender may not be as fast, but it gets the job done without adding toxic chemicals to my smoothies.  So you would think I wouldn’t care about what material Vita-Mix’s pitcher is made from.  But the fact is, we are all affected by plastics on this planet, whether directly or indirectly.  This point was driven whom a few weeks ago during a week-long meditation retreat on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

Plastic in Paradise

The Hui Ho’olana is a retreat center located in the center of the center of the center: the very center of Molokai, which… Read the rest

February 21, 2014

Opting Out of Toxic Checkbook Covers

Have you ever considered your checkbook cover? If you’re like me, you might be so accustomed to paying bills online that you don’t even remember where your checkbook is.  But I’m thinking about mine today because of an article I just read in Environmental Health News. Apparently, Deluxe, the main provider of personal checks for most of America, has reached a settlement to remove a toxic phthalate called DEHP from its plastic checkbook covers by June 2015.  According to the organization Healthcare Without Harm, DEHP “can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system — particularly the developing testes….”  And the chemical is listed by the State of California as a carcinogen and male developmental toxicant.

Opting Out

Deluxe may be reformulating its covers, but who knows what chemical they will substitute for DEHP.  And the covers are still non-biodegradable plastic. So I called … Read the rest

July 31, 2012

What’s Plastic Got to Do with Clean Air?

If I asked you to list the problems with plastic, you might mention toxic chemicals like BPA or phthalates; or the fact that it doesn’t biodegrade; or that animals ingest it; or that there is a toxic soup of plastic swirling around in the world’s oceans.  Those are the issues I’ve focused on for the past 5 years, so last year, when Moms Clean Air Force asked me to write a blog post for them, I balked.  “Clean air is a vitally important environmental issue,” I said, “but my blog focuses on plastic, not air.  Plus, I’m behind on writing my new book Plastic-Free and have no time to delve into other subjects.”

Silly me.  As I researched the book, I learned about many ways that the life cycle of plastic contributes to air pollution, both indoor and out, and that reducing our plastic consumption will help to protect the air we breathe.  So here are a few reasons why those of us concerned about reducing… Read the rest

July 19, 2012

Why Chemicals in Plastics May Have Worse Effects at Lower Doses

Why is there so much debate about whether plastic chemicals like Bisphenol-A (BPA) or phthalates are harmful to humans in the amounts at which we’re exposed to them?  And why is it so difficult to pass regulations in the United States to protect us from these chemicals?  One reason is that regulators are accustomed to following the age-old adage that “the dose makes the poison.”  But on a conference call this morning with the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE),  I learned how it is that endocrine-disrupting chemicals like those found in plastics and pesticides actually do their most long-term and lasting damage at levels considered to be non-toxic.  But first, here’s a little basic biology:

The Endocrine System

To understand what endocrine-disrupting chemicals do, it’s important to understand what the endocrine system is in the first place.  According to The Endocrine DisruptionRead the rest

July 12, 2012

Are BPA-Free Plastic Products, Food Cans, & Register Receipts Safer than Those with BPA in Them?

With all of the concern about Bisphenol-A (BPA), an estrogen-mimicking chemical used in some plastics, most metal food can linings, and most thermal paper receipts, manufacturers are looking for alternative materials to use so they can tout their products as BPA-free. But are the substitutes actually safer than BPA itself? The truth is, we don’t know.  As I’ve written before, studies have been done suggesting that some BPA-free products produce the same or greater hormone-disrupting effects as BPA. There are two problems here: 1) The alternatives haven’t been sufficiently tested for safety before being swapped into products, and 2) Some manufacturers won’t even disclose what alternatives they are using.

Study Finds Increased Exposure to BPS as BPA is phased out

One chemical being used to replace BPA in thermal paper receipts is Bisphenol S (BPS).  In May 2012, the journal Environmental Science and Technology… Read the rest

April 24, 2012

What I Should Have Said to Melissa Harris-Perry: We Are the Albatross

This past Sunday, I had the honor to be a guest on MCNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show. It was my very first live national appearance, so as you can imagine, I was just a little concerned with getting everything right. As instructed, I put on way more makeup than usual (usual being none at all most days) and was grateful for finally having found plastic-free mascara this year! I got a hair cut (probably the first in over a year), plucked my crazy eyebrows (couldn’t deal with mixing up a batch of sugar wax) and slathered on so much eye shadow and mascara that Michael kept staring at me and going, “Wow. Your eyes.” And of course, for several days, I went over and over in my mind what I wanted to say.

The theme of the show was environmental justice, and the main guest for the segment was the amazing Majora Carter, environmental justice advocate and founder of Sustainable South Bronx. I was to join the conversation, happening live in New York… Read the rest

February 16, 2012

How the Non-Toxic Avenger Ruined My Relationship with Ibuprofen (and other drugs)

So, two weeks ago, I was out of town staying in a hotel with friends and looking forward to a much deserved vacation, when I started to feel the tell-tale signs of a cold coming on. My face hurt, my head throbbed, and by the second day, I had a sore throat. I’ve written before about plastic-free traveling as well as plastic-free cold remedies, but I wasn’t prepared for the eventuality of both happening at the same time.  Crap.  What was I going to do?  My neti pot was at home.   So were most of my cloth handkerchiefs.  And I had no idea how to get soup or cough remedies without plastic in this unfamiliar place.

At first, I tried to manage the symptoms without plastic.  I drank a lot of water (due mostly to my friend’s helpful nagging.)  I found a glass jar of honey and some lemons at the local grocery store.  And I found Woodford Reserve bourbon–which comes  with a wood/cork stopper instead of a plastic cap or BPA-lined… Read the rest

April 12, 2011

BPA-Free Does Not Mean Safe. Most Plastics Leach Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals.

Which plastics are safe?  I get that question all the time. The Internet is full of charts listing the numbers of the various types of plastic and explaining which ones are safe and which ones are not.  Supposedly, #2 (high density polyethylene), #4 (low density polyethylene), and #5 (polypropylene) are safe, right?  Does that mean the lid on my travel mug is safe?  It’s #5 polypropylene.

So is the sport cap on Michael’s Klean Kanteen water bottle.

We’re supposed to avoid plastics #3 (PVC), #6 (polystyrene), and #7 (polycarbonate). Polycarbonate is the plastic that is made from the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). And BPA has a bad rap because it’s a hormone-disruptor. Walk down the aisles of any drug store these days, and you’ll find rows of plastic products labelled BPA-Free.  BPA-Free water bottles…

Baby bottles…

Pacifiers…

In fact, entire shelves of baby products are labelled BPA-free. … Read the rest

November 8, 2010

Plastic is a Social Justice Issue (Van Jones at TEDxGP2)

I’m back from the TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch conference and feeling refreshed.  I’ve got many things to report about plastic toxicity, plastic and animals, plastics legislation, and even a new product that you’ll be excited about.  The videos will be posted on the web in a few days, and I’ll let you know when they’re up so you can experience the event for yourself.

But for right now, I just want to share my notes from what I felt was one of the most important talks of the day: Van Jones on Environmental Justice. (Van Jones is the author of The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.)

How many of us check the number on the bottom of a plastic container to see if it’s one of the “bad plastics” to avoid?  How many are still willing to use #2, #4, or #5 plastics (the “safe” ones)?  Well, besides what I always say… Read the rest