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The (bottled) water trap we got ourselves into

water

Big companies are stealing our water and selling it back to us. And we’re letting them. How did we come to this?

Today’s news that mega-company Nestle gets free water from British Columbia and makes billions after bottling it shouldn’t come as a surprise. This happens everywhere and every day, and we’re allowing it.

Bottled water is convenient, yes. But it should be used only for emergencies or when truly needed. We’ve become addicted to the concept of drinking water from a bottle. This is wrecking our environment, damaging our health and distorting our relationship with one of the basic elements of nature.

At the very least, we should make those who profit from our water pay for it.

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A plastic-free life

glass

It’s impossible. You can’t really run away from plastic, and you probably don’t even want to: it’s too convenient, too cheap, and sometimes too pretty to avoid. But what you can do is minimize your and your family’s exposure to plastic.

As I mentioned in a previous post, some compounds found in plastic containers, such as Bisphenol A, are known to leach into food and drinks and harm human health. Pregnant women, children and infants are at a higher risk of exposure to these toxins. BPA free plastics are not necessarily safe for us.

You can take very simple and affordable steps to minimize your family’s exposure to plastic, especially when handling food and drinks. Here is what we have done so far:

Avoid tupperware. We mostly use glass containers to store leftovers and bring lunch to work. Yes, they are a little heavier but it really hasn’t been a big deal. Plus if we need to warm our food we can safely use a microwave. (Don’t ever, ever microwave plastic, no matter how “safe” manufacturers claim this is. I’ve consulted with many scientists and they all agree it isn’t.)

Make it fun. We’ve recently become fans of the salad-in-a-jar trend. D has been taking his lunch in mason jars or old pasta sauce jars and he’s loving it. If you haven’t already, Google “salad in a jar.” You’ll find this is no small trend!

Make it nice. I have to say, I simply enjoy a meal better when it’s not served in plastic. Every meal should be a good experience, and re-heated tupperware just doesn’t do it for me.

Start early. Since our lil S was born, just over a year ago, we’ve tried to minimize her contact with plastic. Instead of regular baby bottles, we bought two glass bottles by LifeFactory.

Find what works for you. Instead of buying expensive glass containers marketed for babies (we also found out that some glass containers still have BPA in them, in the liner for the lids), we found the best solution: mini mason jars. I can’t recommend them enough. They’re cheap. They don’t break easily. They are the perfect baby portion. You can boil them, freeze them and stack them, and they come in lots of different sizes. They are honestly the best kept secret when it comes to storing baby food. The only caveat is that the lids can become a little rusty with the constant washing. But they are so cheap, you can afford to buy new ones and keep your old jars for other things, maybe leave them as candle holders.

Avoid packaging. I try, as much as I can, to avoid fresh food packaged in plastic. I always go for the bunch of spinach instead of the boxed kind. I don’t buy bagged peppers. If two similar products come one wrapped in plastic and one in cardboard, I’ll go for the latter. I know this might seem like an exercise in futility, but I like to think every little bit counts. Plus this rule usually means I end up avoiding processed stuff anyway, because my default is to buy fresh, unpackaged food. Now, that’s fodder for a whole new post…

If you have any comments or other ideas on how to stay away from plastic, please do share them!

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Just a personal note :)

I went out for dinner last night with my mom friends–whom I should stop calling my mom friends because, really, they’re just my good friends now–and we talked about how much fun our mat leave has been and how great it was that our lil ones brought us together. At some point I mentioned that I don’t think there is a more eager, genuine smile than the one offered by a new mom when meeting another. Don’t you agree? I love it.

Have a great weekend!

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About those plastic pellets in your facial scrub

The news that millions of tiny plastic particles used in facial scrubs and toothpaste have been found in the Great Lakes is making its rounds in the media this week.

The gist of this concerning news is that small and sometimes microscopic plastic particles go down the drain after having made contact with your skin and show up in our lakes. They are making their way up the food chain, being eaten by fish that we, humans, end up eating ourselves.

Reading and listening to this report has made me think of The Story of Cosmetics, one of the videos produced by the brilliant Annie Leonard. (If you don’t know her, please stop everything you’re doing and head to www.storyofstuff.org now!)

If you’re concerned about what’s in your family’s cosmetics and toiletries I highly recommend watching the video. There’s so much to think about here.

“It’s like a giant experiment. We’re using all these mystery chemicals and waiting to see what happens.”