Plastic Monday: Sarah and Tracy Talk Green Feminine Products

OK, ladies, let’s go there. (Gentlemen, I’d tell you to look away, but this is important information for the women you care about, too.) Over 12 billion single-use tampons make their way to landfills each year. One look at the feminine hygiene section of your local drugstore will tell you that most women’s tampon of choice in the US is individually packaged in plastic, with a plastic, single-use applicator. Plastic + single use + easy-to-find, non-plastic alternative = Stupid Plastic. Then there’s the fact that these items are also bleached with chlorine—the manufacture of which creates dioxin, a known carcinogen. WHY anyone would require a little piece of cotton and rayon that’s pretty much going to spend its entire lifespan “where the sun doesn’t shine” to be sparkly white instead of a natural-looking beige is beyond me, but just about every mainstream tampon company bleaches its products. And the same stupid plastic and bleaching concerns hold true for pads, as well. I used to feel rather pleased with myself because I went to the trouble of using unbleached, plastic-free, organic cotton tampons and pads from an eco-friendly company. (Natracare, in my case.) I was well aware of the reusable feminine care alternatives on the market, but I have to confess, trying those out wasn’t a green step I was ready to take. I’m a busy working mom who’s constantly on the go. In addition to my work at Green America, […]

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Take Action to Eliminate BPA from Canned Foods

As Green America senior writer Sarah Tarver-Wahlquist reported in her “Plastic(-free) Monday” blog post last week, there’s a problem with toxic chemicals in our canned food. The problem is bisphenol-A (BPA), a common additive in plastic products, including the plastic inner linings of food cans. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that has been linked to an array of frightening health problems, including heart disease, reproductive problems, and cancer. Now, our allies at the Breast Cancer Fund have published the results of a new study that found BPA lurking in a number of the staples of a Thanksgiving table, having leached from the can-linings into the food itself. The Breast Cancer Fund tested canned foods like turkey gravy, creamed corn, cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, green beans, and cream of mushroom soup. They found that single servings of nearly half of the tested products showed BPA levels linked to adverse health effects. The study also found high variability in BPA levels even among cans of the same product. Their conclusion: Until BPA is phased out entirely from can linings, consumers can never be sure if their canned food contains BPA or not. Some good news: Eden Foods has recently developed promising alternatives to the BPA epoxy resin that lines most canned foods. These alternatives must also still be subjected to rigorous testing for safety, however. In the meantime, join with us and the Breast Cancer Fund to send a holiday “wish […]

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Plastic (free) Monday: Getting BPA Out Of My Kitchen

The Breast Cancer Fund found BPA in all six samples it tested.

Most of us are all too familiar with the dangers of bisphenol-A (BPA), which has been used commonly as an additive in plastic products. BPA, which is an endocrine disruptor linked to an assortment of frightening health effects, including heart disease, reproductive problems, and cancer, started making headlines a few years ago when study after study indicated that BPA can leach […]

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Plastic Monday: Bag the bags.

When I started researching plastic bag laws for the “Plastics Challenge” issue of our Green American, I thought I was already aware of how wasteful and polluting plastic bags really are.  After all, I’ve carried my reusable organic cotton shopping bags to the grocery store for as long as I’ve been old enough to do my own cooking.  Aesthetically and practically, I simply prefer a roomy tote bag with a comfy shoulder strap to a fist full of flimsy plastic handles any day, so it’s always been an easy green choice to make. But looking into the recycling statistics for plastic bags made me think even more about all the other plastic bags in my life – the plastic bags that I sometimes place into into those smugly green organic cotton totes (frozen veggies, or bulk grains, for example).   The plastics industry certainly thinks of them all the same, grouping them together in a category known as “postconsumer film,” which includes other waste like newspaper bags, food bags, pallet wrap, and plastic product wrappers. This collapsing of the category makes it tricky to suss out a statistic on how many plastic shopping bags get recycled in this country.  The EPA’s most recent figure for the bags – 1 percent being recycled – dates to 2005, with all subsequent statistics addressing recycling rates for the overall “film” category.   And in 2009 (the most recent year for which we have the stats), […]

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Plastic Monday: Say No to “Stupid Plastic”

We just sent our latest issue of the Green American to the printer, so in about three weeks, you’ll be getting “Take the Plastic Challenge” in your mailboxes—or e-mail inboxes, if you’ve signed up to get our publications in digital format. In honor of the editorial team hitting our latest deadline, I thought I’d offer a small sneak peek at our upcoming plastics-centered theme. When my fellow editors and I started looking into the social and environmental impacts of plastic, we expected to find plenty of things to be concerned about. What we didn’t expect was to be freaking out as much as we are about plastic. Because once you really start thinking about it, you notice that plastic is EVERYWHERE. As author Susan Freinkel points out in her book Plastic: A Love Story, you probably can’t go five minutes after waking up in the morning without touching something plastic (i.e. alarm clock, glasses, toothbrush, soap dispenser, towel rack, and oh-my-gosh … toilet seat). There are two big reasons to flip out over how pervasive plastic has become worldwide since Leo Hendrik Baekeland invented Bakelite (the first commercially successful plastic) in 1907:

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