Someone just forwarded me a great resource for parents who are concerned about all this BPA business: a blog called Z Recommends and its report on BPA in children’s feeding products, which rates makers of products such as pacifiers and sippy cups. Besides the online directory, there’s a mobile component. Just text-message “zrecs” followed by
the name of the company you’re curious about to 69866 to receive info on your
The blog points out one problem that I’d never considered: while the main functional part of any given children’s product may indeed be BPA-free, that’s not necessarily true of the item’s other parts, which are equally likely to end up in kids’ mouths. The “shield” on a pacifier, for example, isn’t meant to be sucked on, but we all know how that goes. Said shields are often made of polycarbonate plastic, which contains the endocrine-disrupting chemical.
The ratings—there are four categories, ranging from Excellent to Poor—are based on “product quality, innovation, the range of products a
company offers, their stance on BPA and their openness about sharing
information about their products.” Z Recommends also provides a list of companies whose wares are all BPA-free, so you can trust anything they make. I found it heartening that there are 30 names on that list.
Z Recommends isn’t just for parents, by the way. It’s chock-full of informative posts such as this one, which talks about Wal-Mart U.S., Nalgene, and BPA-related company claims that warrant skepticism.
Finally the mainstream media is talking about bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in many plastics, in light of a new brief by the National Toxicology Program that expresses concern over the substance. As the report puts it, “the possibility that bisphenol A may impact human development cannot be dismissed.”
It’s especially nice to see more light being shed on the fact that the FDA based its sketchy “BPA is safe” stance on two studies funded by the plastic industry [link], ignoring hundreds of government and academic studies that raised red flags about BPA.
In my recent post about the chemical, I expressed surprise to learn that it’s found not only in baby bottles but also in aluminum food cans and beverage cans and bottles. Turns out it’s in numerous other everyday objects, such as CDs, too. Today's Washington Post story on the issue quotes an overseer of the report as saying, “It’s everywhere.... Your cell phone is probably made out of it.”
Much of the focus in recent reports is on BPA’s presence in baby bottles, sippy cups, and infant formula containers. That’s as it should be, since developing bodies are more affected by endocrine disruptors than adult bodies are.
The Washington Post story points out that BornFree, a company that makes BPA-free baby bottles, can’t keep up with demand. I don’t know about other parents, though, but I’m sticking to glass bottles. Today it’s BPA, but tomorrow...?
A blues: This story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the FDA deemed BPA to be safe at current exposure levels based on two studies ... paid for by an arm of the trade group the American Chemistry Council.
The new issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter
just arrived, and one of the articles talks about bisphenol
A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor that’s found in polycarbonate, which is commonly used to make plastic cutlery, sippy cups, and baby bottles. For those who don’t
know what exactly endocrine disruptors are (I didn’t), they’re
substances that mimic hormones (estrogen, in BPA’s case), thereby
messing with the endocrine system, which regulates reproductive and
Scientists are divided on which particular health ills can be attributed to BPA—some believe it’s associated with increased rates of breast and prostate cancer, early-onset puberty, type 2 diabetes, and ADHD; others simply worry that it may affect the maturing brain in unspecified ways—but I say, why wait to find out? The article quotes the National Institute of Environmental Health Science’s Chris Portier as saying that “there’s sufficient evidence now to give people who want to be prudent—especially parents—a reason to avoid BPA.”
I’d vaguely heard of BPA as something to avoid in plastic water bottles (I’ve consequently said good-bye to my old Nalgenes and bought some Klean Kanteens) and baby bottles (we’re using glass ones). And it’s pretty infuriating that the substance is used in products designed to go into the mouths of kids, whose developing bodies are the most vulnerable to endocrine disruptors.
But what I didn’t know is that BPA is also found in the epoxy resin that lines food and beverage cans. “Close to 100 percent of our exposure [to BPA] occurs this way,” NIEHS’s Michael Shelby is quoted as saying.
The story suggests avoiding canned beverages and buying foods that are packaged in cartons or pouches rather than cans.
Mr. Wallet Mouth and I aren’t big on soda or any other canned beverages, but our cupboard does contain a good supply of
canned foods, mostly beans, stewed tomatoes, and the odd veggie chili. So I was glad to read that there is one company, Eden Foods, using cans without the epoxy resin. According to Eden’s website, its custom-made cans have baked-on oleoresinous c-enamel lining, oleoresin being “a natural mixture of an oil and a resin extracted
from various plants, such as pine or balsam fir.”
Having been recently turned on to who owns whom
in the organic food sector, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that
Eden is an independent company, family owned and operated since 1968.
Cool, I thought to myself. I’ll start buying all my canned food from Eden. The only downside, I discovered, is that Eden offers only one product in a can: organic beans.
Clearly it’s time for other food producers to get on the oleoresinous c-enamel bandwagon, because I have a feeling that as more and more consumers get educated about BPA, this issue is going to amount to far more than a hill of beans.
Nothing like a new baby to slow down your blogging! Our new Mouth to feed is a joy, but it’s safe to say that the first two weeks of parenthood have kicked my butt.
Speaking of butts, one bloggable nugget has emerged from the recent haze of sleep deprivation and poop overload. It has to do with the derriere—specifically, what to cover the soft, newborn bum with. (And don’t even talk to me about elimination communication. At least not at this stage of the game.)
Anyone who has even thought about procreating is probably aware of the environmental debate over disposable vs. cloth diapers. Disposable nappies aren’t very earth-friendly to produce and take forever to biodegrade; cloth ones require water and electricity to clean—and if you use a diaper service, you have to factor in the transportation factors as well. It’s a classic case of the importance of considering embodied energy.
Now there’s a new entrant to the debate: gDiapers, which feature a reusable cloth outer layer and a biodegradable liner that you flush down the toilet. According to the company’s site, the liner has been given two thumbs up from the Cradle to Cradle guys. Now, gDiapers are old news to parents with diaper-wearing kids, but Mr. Wallet Mouth and I only recently learned of them, and I’m happy to report that (a) they fit our infant’s bum fairly well (they don’t work for every baby) and (b) we’ve not found them to be too much of a pain in the ass, though they are more work than disposables.
Also, the gDiapers website says the company works with China Labour Watch “to keep an eye on the mill we use to ensure workers
are treated fairly and working conditions are constantly being
Still, I can’t help but feel guilty about all the extra water we’re using with all these additional flushes, especially since we live in an
apartment with a regular, non-low-flow toilet. One of these days I’ll get around to rectifying that, but probably not until I’ve had more sleep.
December 2010 I haven't actually bought anything from Po-Zu yet, but I appreciate their awareness of the fact that many vegan shoes are made of petroleum products and aren't necessarily better for the environment than leather footwear. Po-Zu seems to set a high bar for itself when it comes to ingredients and supply chains.
March 2010 After running out of dish soap, I started using our good old bars of Sappo Hill out of necessity. But you know what? Our dishes are just as clean, and when I pick up the soap at our grocery store, the only packaging on the bars is the price tag. And did I mention the soap is awesome? We love the oatmeal bar.
February 2010 TMI alert: If you're a squeamish guy, read no further. I'm done with tampons! Instead, I'm using the DivaCup.
January 2010 Mr. Wallet Mouth and I both love Pact. Its underwear is made of organic cotton, and the company donates 10% of its sales to worthy environmental causes. Not only that, but the company is serious about eco-friendly packaging. Each pair of undies comes not in a plastic bag but in a little cloth pouch made from fabric remnants. I'm also impressed with how responsive Pact is over email; when I asked a packaging question, I got a nice reply from the CEO.
December 2009 After reading about Skoy Cloths, the biodegradable paper-towel alternative, on Fake Plastic Fish, I bought a bunch for stocking stuffers and my own kitchen, and I'm now a fan. They're lasting a long time, despite repeated washings in the laundry, and they arrive with minimal packaging.
October 2009 I was already of fan of Straus yogurt (see June 2007), but now I love it even more. According to Michael Straus, a son of the company's founder, Straus yogurt "is made, cooled, and set in stainless-steel vats, unlike most yogurts, which are poured while still hot into plastic cups to cool and set." As someone who's concerned about plastics and chemical safety, I'm happy to hear that!
July 2009 I'm using a lot more baking soda now that I'm making more of an effort to clean the house in a nontoxic way. But from now on I'll be buying Bob's Red Mill, since Arm & Hammer engages in animal testing.
July 2008 Started feeling extra-good about buying one of my fave meat substitutes, Tofurky, after learning that its maker, Turtle Island Foods, is an independent, family-owned company (Unlike Boca Foods, which is a subsidiary of Kraft, and Morningstar, which is owned by Kellogg).
April 2008 I'm going to start buying my canned beans from Eden Foods, for two reasons: it uses custom-made cans that don't contain bisphenol A, and it's an independent, family-operated company.
February 2008 From now on, whenever I order takeout or ask for a doggy bag, I’ll make sure to avoid #6 polystyrene containers (and, of course, Styrofoam).