Friday, June 20, 2014

BPA-Free is just as bad

When I put together Olivia's registry I did TONS of research on the products I selected, and felt really good that all the BPA-free items were the absolute safest choice for my daughter. Boon dishes and utensils, Born-Free bottles, ZoLi sippy cups; all BPA-free, cost a little more and were free from toxins, right? NOPE, recently come to find out that "BPA-free" does not mean "free from all hormone-disrupting chemicals." They just switched out BPA for another ingredient that will still leach chemicals and petroleum by-products into your food. This article from Mother Jones details a new study in the journal Environmental Health that identifies specific plastic products - including AVENT baby bottles, CamelBak sippy cups, and Lock & Lock food storage containers - that leach estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Study authors write "Many PC-replacement-products made from acrylic, polystyrene, polyethersulfone, and Tritan resins leached chemicals with estrogenic activity, including products made for use by babies. Exposure to various forms of UV radiation often increased the leaching of chemicals with estrogenic activity."

So what's the big deal with hormone-disrupting chemicals like BPA? ALOT, that's what. One of my first posts on this blog was about endocrine disrupting hormones and the havoc they wreak. For starters they're linked to cancer and it only takes a tiny dose - just parts per BILLION. According to scientists they may cause infertility problems, liver abnormalities, asthma and heart disease and a slew of other issues. Even worse, some of these effects appear to be epigenetic and trans-generational meaning they pass from one generation to the next. Bottom line, avoid these chemicals as much as possible. (I also wrote these informative posts about the hormone disrupting chemicals BPA and phthalates).
  

"Many of the items are advertised as healthy alternatives to plastics containing BPA and the hormone-altering chemicals known as phthalates," writes Mother Jones. "Born Free markets its baby products as the 'natural choice for moms who want a safe, calm experience every time they feed their baby." Weil Baby claims that its bottles are made from 'revolutionary new materials' that are 'ultra-safe.' After UV exposure, CertiChem's study found that both companies' products leached potent synthetic estrogens." This just makes my blood boil. Companies use clever BS marketing buzz words like "All-natural", "Gluten-free", "BPA-free", etc. to sell their products and safety only seems to be an issue if we don't buy it. My lesson learned is that the burden is on the consumer to determine product safety and it is important to thoroughly research your purchases and read labels.

Plastic is EVERYWHERE and there is not much I can do about what is outside of my home. My main concern is plastic used with our food - bowls, plates, cups, utensils, etc. Little by little we've been replacing our BPA-free products with either glass or stainless steel and I've found some great substitutes! 

Sippy cups: It ticks me off how much money I wasted on stupid ZoLi sippy cups - they were $15 each and the special straw cleaning kit was another $10. UGH!!! I'm glad I discovered Pura Kiki stainless steel bottles and luckily Olivia loves them. They are 100% plastic free with silicon spouts and the outside is completely non-toxic and free of lead, phthalates, PVC or BPA. I also really like that they can be used as bottles and the top is compatible with pretty much every nipple out there, so they grow with your child. They come in a lot of great colors and a heads up, ours have been dropped several times and the paint has chipped here and there. No big deal, but if the aesthetics of your sippy cups are important to you then go with the natural stainless. They're not cheap at $15.99 on Amazon, but I highly recommend them!!!
Dishes: I had a collection of Boon plates and bowls (the one with the suction that sticks to the table) and immediately switched these out for alternatives we already owned. Our Pyrex Snapware has been great for bowls - they are practically unbreakable (saying practically because they can break, its just very hard to do) and a great size for snacks or cereal. Olivia has dropped them on the floor numerous times and they have never busted.
I made the FOOLISH, FOOLISH mistake of letting Olivia use our Pillivuyt dishes until I figured out a good plate substitute. I was completely asking for it when one shattered into pieces on the floor - I could have cried because I KNEW it was bound to happen, UGH!! Several natural/green parenting blogs I follow recommended Duralex which is the company that invented tempered glass that is 2.5 more resistant to breakage and chipping than normal glass. The dessert plate is just the perfect size for my almost 2 year old at 7 1/2 inches and is dishwasher and microwave safe. Another bonus is they're made 100% in France and not China. I bought a set of six on Amazon for $21.80 and they've served us well so far! I will probably buy some of the matching bowls down the road.
One of the "crunchy mama" boards I follow shared this great idea for small snack bowls: stainless steel cat food bowls! Wal-mart sells this exact 4 1/2 one for only $1.00 and it doesn't have any cheesy cat paws or designs on it - just plain stainless steel bowl. They don't have them online and I found ours on the pet aisle. ONLY $1!!! I actually remember my vet years ago saying to never use plastic food bowls for your pets because the chemicals leach into the food and water. I should have questioned why it was not recommended for pets but apparently okay for humans...

Utensils: Olivia started using our stainless flatware several months back, so that hasn't been a concern. For our next little one I will use something bamboo like Bambu 5-inch Baby's Utensils, which are $16.99 on Amazon for a set of four. 
Baby Bottles: If I were in the market for baby bottles I would stay away from anything plastic - no matter what they claim I would not trust them. There are many glass options and I would probably go with LifeFactory. They are all made in the US or Europe, are leakproof and like the Pura Kiki will grow with your child into a sippy then regular water bottle. The only reason I wouldn't recommend the Pura for baby bottles is because you can't see how many ounces your baby has drank since it is stainless. LifeFactory bottles are't cheap at about $17 each and I would probably try to find some used ones on Ebay or Craigslist.

Teethers: Just like everything else, I paid a premium for a couple teethers for Olivia that were both BPA and BPS free. I wish I would have bought one of these handmade natural wood and organic bamboo teethers from Myecobaby on Etsy. Only $10 and Olivia would have LOVED these (especially the one with the knots).
 Water Bottles: Ed and I are addicted to our water bottles and carry them everywhere. We were fans of CamelBak and Nalgene, but are now BIG BIG fans of our new Sigg stainless water bottles. Check out their website and you won't believe all the fun, creative designs you can choose. I was overwhelmed and couldn't make up my mind, so I went with this basic blue 1.0 Liter Classic Traveler and am crazy about it. They also have a wide mouth option, but this one is just right for me. They cost about $23 on Amazon and I like that they are made in Switzerland and not China (like Kleen Kanteen). Mine has taken a few tumbles and has a couple little dents, but I still love it. I've had water that tastes funny in stainless steel containers and that is not the case with the Sigg. Ever since we installed our Premier Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System from Costco and switched to Sigg I've been pounding water all day because it tastes so good!
Food storage: I have mentioned our Pyrex Snapware in previous posts and above as a bowl option - love this stuff. We bought our 18 piece set at Costco for a crazy good price of something like $28, but I don't see it on their site anymore. Amazon sells it for $44.76, which is still a great price. I have never had a leak and it is so so durable. I did buy an additional set of smaller one cup squares for $12.99 and that is all we need! These have been great for Olivia's snacks.
Travel mugs: Next up on my shopping list is to replace our plastic travel coffee mugs - they're probably not even BPA-free. We don't use them much, so it hasn't been a top priority. My sister has a great looking ceramic one from Starbucks that I was eye-balling, but it was a seasonal Christmas purchase. Found several different options on Ebay and I like this one:

I would love to hear any other suggestions or ideas!!

Additional reading:

5 comments:

  1. Thanks Stephanie. Awesome information! My mother always said glass is best and of course she was right.
    I'll be passing this info on

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  2. Which sippy cup do you recommend?

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    Replies
    1. Jennifer - we're really happy with the Pura Kiki stainless steel sippy cups and just saw them last week on Zulily for $12 each.

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  3. I'll look into those, thanks!

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