Monday, July 28, 2008

Plastic Bottle starter info

I've been hesitating to post this because I am not an expert. Tthat said, I'll just put up the things I read for my own knowledge about what the numbers on the bottom of plastic means. Please search for yourself if you have any question about this, and do what's right for you.

From the National Green Guide

As a general rule, you can identify plastics by the recycling code number stamped on the bottom of an item.

Safest Plastics for You and the Environment
*Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) (#1) containers are recyclable and generally considered the safest single-use plastic-bottle choice. But they are best not reused because studies indicate that after repeated use, PET containers may leach DEHP, an endocrine-disrupting phthalate and probable human carcinogen.

*High-density polyethylene (HDPE) (#2) is both durable and accepted by most curbside recycling programs. Alas, few reusable #2 containers are available.

*Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) (#4), like its cousin HDPE, is a food-safe plastic, mostly used to make food wraps and plastic bags.

*Polypropylene (PP) (#5), though less recyclable, has not been shown to leach any carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. Readily available in reusable containers.

Plastics to Use with Caution
*Polycarbonate (#7) plastics, used in the popular Nalgene Lexan sports bottles and some baby bottles, contain bisphenol-A, a known hormone disruptor that may leach in some circumstances. More research is needed before any potential health risk is known. In the meantime, do not expose bottles to heat or use when visibly worn.
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More from the Green guide from Paul McRandle
Plastics to Avoid

#3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) commonly contains di-2-ehtylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), an endocrine disruptor and probable human carcinogen, as a softener.

#6 Polystyrene (PS) may leach styrene, a possible endocrine disruptor and human carcinogen, into water and food.

#7 Polycarbonate contains the hormone disruptor bisphenol-A, which can leach out as bottles age, are heated or exposed to acidic solutions. Unfortunately, #7 is used in most baby bottles and five-gallon water jugs and in many reusable sports bottles.

Better Plastics

#1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), the most common and easily recycled plastic for bottled water and soft drinks, has also been considered the most safe. However, one 2003 Italian study found that the amount of DEHP in bottled spring water increased after 9 months of storage in a PET bottle.

#2 High Density Polyethylene

#4 Low Density Polyethylene

#5 Polypropylene

Best Reusable Bottles: Betras USA Sports Bottles, Brita Fill & Go Water Filtration Bottle, Arrow Canteen

Better Baby Bottles: Choose tempered glass or opaque plastic made of polypropylene (#5) or polyethylene (#1), which do not contain bisphenol-A.

Tips for Use:

*Sniff and Taste: If there's a hint of plastic in your water, don't drink it.

*Keep bottled water away from heat, which promotes leaching of chemicals.

*Use bottled water quickly, as chemicals may migrate from plastic during storage. Ask retailers how long water has been on their shelves, and don't buy if it's been months.

*Do not reuse bottles intended for single use. Reused water bottles also make good breeding grounds for bacteria.

*Choose rigid, reusable containers or, for hot/acidic liquids, thermoses with stainless steel or ceramic interiors.
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and a third source: 
http://blog.edu-cyberpg.com/2008/04/26/Toxic+Plastic+Numbers+34567.aspx

Paper Or Plastic?

That is the line that stumps me at the checkout. If I ask for plastic, I'm taking something that won't biodegrade and supporting that industry. If I say paper, then I'm felling a tree. What to do?

Many places are selling bags these days and any of them are fine. Since reusable bags are a sudden trend, I had to recommend the ones I use, not just for groceries but for anything I buy-- clothes, books, prescriptions, make up, sporting goods, tech supplies, etc.

Envirosax makes a set of five REALLY attractive, sturdy, well made bags in a variety of modern designs that appeal to all tastes - mens, womens and kids. The bags are surprisingly large and easily hold double what an average paper grocery bag does. To boot, the large loops sling easily on your shoulders (and even when stuffed to the brim, somehow doesn't kill you) leaving your hands free for doors and keys.

They're amazingly sturdy, gorgeous and well made of a waterproof fabric that washes and dries in a breeze (for when you bring drippy meat or ice cream home). Best of all, they come in this little sac that you can fit into your glove compartment or purse. Or roll one up and put it in your pocket - you'll barely feel it's there.

Think of how many of those horrible plastic bags you go through -- some stores are worse than others in packing them light and handing you 13 bags for a 30 item purchase. (Target is a big offender!) I want to say PEOPLE!!! Do you know that these will never biodegrade? (I also, want to ask if my biceps look that dinky, but that's another issue altogether).

Take a moment to calculate how many plastic or paper bags you use in a week -- from trips to Walgreens, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Baskin and Robbins, The Gap, etc... Let's say just 10 bags. That's 520 bags a year! You may reuse those and that's great. But Envirosax practically eliminates the need.

They also make great gifts -- as singles if not the set of five. Normally they are $42-39.95 per 5 pack. Found them here for $33.95.

http://www.outdoorbalance.com/envirosax-shopping-bags-pouch-of-5-bags-p-28.html

(Thx to outdoorbalance.com and peacefulcompany.com for the pix)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Peril of Plastic Bottles - WHO KNEW???

If you haven't heard, as I only recently did, I thought I'd post a warning about plastic bottles.  I was shocked to see a TV special on plastic baby bottles releasing toxins when they are heated (with milk in them).  Uh Oh.

They then went on to say that while we think we're doing a good thing to refill the plastic water bottles that we've become accustomed to buying enmasse, they too make their contents TOXIC UPON REFILLING.  And apparently, this happens when just sitting at room temp, let alone in the sun as it goes from delivery truck to sidewalk to store, including wherever we carry it once we buy it.  Nice. We all get into the health kick of drinking more water --safer, cleaner, expensive water -- and create a new problem: adding mountains of non-degradable trash to the planet. So in trying to cut back, we have begun to refill the same bottle... and now we learn we're causing ourselves new danger. 

I imagine this is of concern to many. I urge you to do your own research but my little foray produced a ton of material on the subject.  From what I can see, the widely used bottles are made from lexan polycarbonate resin.  Apparently when heated or cleaned Bisphenol- A (PBA) can leech into water causing hormone disruption, specifically to the reproductive organs, breast tissue and prostate development. There is also PVC -- polyvinyl chloride. 

There may be more but that was enough information for me.  Since hidden toxins seem to be everywhere, we all have to figure out for ourselves what levels are acceptable and what habits we're willing to form or break.  I'm sure having a bottled water here and there isn't horrible, especially over drinking no water at all. But using these as a daily source seems something to change --for your a$$ if not for the environment. 

If you're in question about any plastic container or bottle you have for anything (including tupperware) just look on the bottom for a number encased in a triangle.  These are the resin ID codes and 1-5 represent a type of plastic, #7 being a different plastic or combination of several. I found the specifics on what numbers mean what at The Green Guide.

Who heard of a one fill bottle?  Maybe it's to create a market for these new, shiny, $25 Sigg bottles they are selling at Whole Foods. There are other refillable, non-plastic bottles you can carry with you, using water you filter yourself. 

Here's a source for checking alternate container options out:   
http://www.debraslist.com/water/index.html 

Just as I'd gotten in the "good" habit of eating more veggies thru the convenience of microwaving them in a plastic bag I learn that that was bad for me... and now this! Back to the Britta filter and filling a non-toxic bottle of my own to save the environment as well as my own skin.