Thursday, December 11, 2008

Toxic chemicals found in 3/4 of soft plastic toys in Canada

From The Ottawa Citizen:

Some toy manufacturers, including Hasbro and Mattel Inc., stopped using phthalates in their toy lines after the law changed in Europe. And more recently, retail giants Toys R Us, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sears Canada have announced that their shelves in North America will not be stocked with toys containing phthalates in 2009.

But other toy manufacturers continue to use phthalates because alternatives are more costly. And they will be able to sell their products elsewhere in Canada after the U.S. market is closed to them in the new year.

In Canada, a proposal to ban phthalates is more narrow, and will not take effect any time soon. Consultations on a Health Canada proposal to ban one type of phthalate, known as DEHP, from products that young children commonly put in their mouths ended in September 2007, but the department has yet to publish draft regulations.

Harold Chizick, spokesman for the Canadian Toy Association, said the industry is "moving away" from phthalates, and will follow the rules established by Health Canada.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"Facts" on Plastic

It never ceases to amaze me, the monumental bald-face spin job the plastics industry tries to put on their miserable products.

They're ratcheting up the intensity of it, too, which is a red flag that desperation must be setting in. They've moved from "Isn't plastic wonderful?" to a serious damage-control mode. Here's but one example:

Who makes this blog? Why, the American Chemistry Council, of course. Which is a "trade organization" for chemical manufacturers, one that helps them put a positive PR spin on their toxic products.

Scroll down to my favorite entry, "Today Show Reverses 40 Years of Industry Science" . Read the flimsy arguments they give to feebly attempt to refute the statements of the NBC program. It pretty much amounts to "this study says it's safe, we believe it, that settles it" and of course, they choose to ignore the avalanche of studies that disagree with their own position. They also refute a certain website that NBC cited - but refuse to even acknowledge what that website is in their rebuttal! Clearly, they don't want you reading anything that disagrees with their view.

These people are liars, plain and simple. They have multi-billion dollar business interests and they will stop at nothing to protect that, no matter how many people have to die.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Not so fantastic plastic"

The British Daily Mail newspaper has a short but good piece about the dangers of plastic bottles here.

A letter to the editor of the Malay Mail newspaper tells of a 12-year-old girl who died from reusing the same plastic water bottle over and over. See here.

And the StarPhoenix has a feature article this week about plastic debris endangering the oceans. See it here. "Based on its surveys of the huge ocean current, the non-profit marine research group estimates that degraded plastic pieces in the central North Pacific outweigh surface zooplankton -- which plays a critical role in ocean food webs -- by a factor of six to one. In other words, for every single kilogram of zooplankton there are six kilograms of plastic."

Monday, February 18, 2008

War on Plastic Toys Escalates - In Slow Motion

Toys-R-Us has announced their intent to reduce PVC plastic toys in their stores. Well, whoopty-do.

So why am I not especially excited about this development?

Because it's merely a statement of intent. Anyone can announce good intentions. We all do it every January when we make New Year's resolutions. How's yours going so far?

It's being referred to as a change in policy. But all "policy" ever does in a corporate structure is provide a middle-management scapegoat for future whipping. We all know of companies who do things differently from their "official stated policy" on a daily basis, do we not? That policy becomes a P.R. safety valve for some spokesman to say "see, we have an official policy on this, we can't help it if some of our stores violated it."

According to Consumer Affairs, the Toys-R-Us press release also insists that "by the end of 2008, juvenile products must be produced without the addition of phthalates." Well, that's just great, but what about the products that they're going to be selling ALL YEAR LONG?

If there's nothing wrong with PVC products, then why get rid of them? And if there IS something wrong with them, why would you wait a YEAR to "phase them out" off your shelves?

PVC toys are already completely banned in the European Union, incidentally.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Plastic-hating Elitism?

According to Jamie O'Boyle, speaking in the article "Plastic Sacked" by Joan Klimkiewicz, "Consumers who shun plastic grocery bags tend to be college-educated urban dwellers who live near stores promoting such awareness, such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods".

This is precisely why a voluntary and gradual attempt to switch over to cloth bags is just not going to work, however well intentioned. The plastic bags must be banned, not merely discouraged.

It may sound elitist to say, but there exists a vast section of the world's population which will never ever be made to functionally grasp why plastics should be avoided. And even if you do manage to drive this point into their heads, most are too lazy to act upon it. The decision of "paper, plastic, or cloth?" must be taken out of all our hands at the grocery store.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Transparent shills for the plastics industry

Just happened across this sickening link to a magazine article that is so blatantly pushing the party line of the plastics manufacturing industry, it's ridiculous. "Life in plastic, it's fantastic"? I think I'm going to throw up.

I don't know who this "Julie Maske" is, but considering what a huge quantity of statistics and inside-industry data she's spouting about the plastics industry, she certainly must have done a herculean amount of research. Problem is, it ALL seems to have come from ONE source: Heidi Johansen and Paal Skjetne at SINTEF Applied Chemistry. If any effort was made to seek information about plastics from an opposing or differing view, it's not evident in the article. The article seems clearly pre-designed to promote the nauseating idea stated in its headline, that plastics are fantastic.

Good examples of the unquestioning dull-mindedness of this article are observations like "without plastics, we would be living in the stone age" and "without disposable articles, it would be like the Black Death again". Not only are both of these statements demonstrably not factual, it underscores that this article is a blatant advertisement in disguise; a puff piece designed to promote the ludicrous views of the plastics industry, who have far more in common with "the Black Death" than the lack thereof.

It also adds insult to idiocy by illustrating the lead-in with a huge photo of a Barbie doll (if ever there were a perfect symbol of all that is wrong with the world, the Barbie doll would be a contender near the top of the list).

Not all shills for plastic companies are this obvious. Keep your eyes and ears open for the gentler, subtler spin promoted by plastic lobbyists and PR-spin-doctors in the media.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Coca-Cola Experimenting with Aluminum Bottles

According to this story at BrandWeek, Coca-Cola will be product-testing aluminum bottles for their products in 2008.

This is good news, not only because of the ecological health ramifications of the plastic bottles, but also because I've always hated that plastic bottles just don't get as cold as the cans. I've tried the Budweiser aluminum bottles, and though I'm not a fan of the beer, I have to say the intense cold of the aluminum help makes it almost palatable to me.

Of course, aluminum isn't without its own health issues, and I have to wonder what kind of coating the interior of the aluminum bottles are lined with...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Carcinogenic PFOA still at large until 2015

Ever heard of PFOA? Probably not. It stands for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (also known as "C-8"), which is a man-made substance not occurring naturally in the environment. It's the same chemical compound used to make Teflon, slick coatings for candy wrappers, and other so-called "food grade" plastic coatings. And there are, in all likelihood, deposits of it in your body and mine.

Ever heard of Glenn Evers? Probably not. He's a whistleblower who worked at DuPont Chemical for 22 years, before being laid off in 2002. Evers called attention to the health effects of perfluorinated chemicals being used in food packaging, and charged that DuPont continued to allow its usage, even after being aware that company tests proved the stuff was leaching out at much higher levels than the FDA permits.

When the chemicals from the perfluorinated paper coating are absorbed into the human body, they break down into perfluorooctanoic acid.

Evers, speaking in the Washington Post, said: "We have a chemical that is bioaccumulating in every man, woman and child in America. DuPont stayed in the market strictly to make a buck."

A 2007 study found PFOA linked to low birth weight and smaller head circumference in newborn babies.

So, is anything being done? Probably not. According to the U.S. Government's official EPA website on PFOA, they want to - and I quote - "work toward eliminating emissions and product content by 2015".

Gee. Wow. That's just brilliant. How many people will be dead by 2015 because these scumbags are putting this ban on the slowest possible track? And notice they're not even promising a ban by 2015, they're saying it's just something they're "working towards". Which means precisely nothing.

If PFOA isn't bad, then why even bother calling for its elimination by 2015? And if it is bad, then why would you wait almost a decade to fully eradicate it, while people continue to absorb this dangerous crap? Who made this decision? I want to know his name.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Snopes wrong again

The insufferably pompous and arbitrary "debunker" site has an alarming tendency to pooh-pooh anything and everything that doesn't fit within popular consciousness. Take for example, its page that supposedly refutes the dangers of microwaved plastic.

Like most snopes-isms, the basis for the attack is not so much on the subject's own merits, but specifically regards a series of emails passed around the internet.

Read the Snopes article, and then read reputable sources on the subjects of plastic outgassing.

The Snopes article ridicules people who have "an unshakeable belief that using plastic containers in microwave ovens causes cancer".

But it's already an established FACT that plastics outgas and impart hormone-like chemicals to that which they touch.

The resulting hormonal imbalance is - and this is an established FACT - a major cancer risk.

Finally, it's an established FACT that heating plastic (whether by microwave or by conventional oven) tends to increase its propensity to outgas and release chemicals. The Snopes article even acknowledges this itself!

So how is it that Snopes takes the obvious and well-known facts about plastics, and twists them around to say that black is white, night is day, up is down? What's their real agenda here? Or do they just get off on faux-debunking everything in sight just for the fun of it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cancer isn't very practical either.

I just read this post by Bamboogeek who has a great blog, but his comment kind of struck me as odd - he states "Can't say its really practical to abolish all plastics from your life". He goes on to list some ways one can minimize plastic use, like avoiding frozen TV dinners and bottled water, etc.

I don't see it that way at all. I don't want to minimize plastics in my life, I want to get rid of them altogether. Not just in my life, but yours too. I want it to be illegal for anyone to use plastics for any consumer products except appliances. There are some industrial applications where plastic parts in factory machinery may be necessary in the short run also.

I have abolished all plastics from my life except those plastics found in appliances and devices, such as my refrigerator, television, DVD player, cable box and things like electric guitars. This computer I'm using is plastic as well, but I'm looking into purchasing one of the many wooden computer systems available out there.

If you're trying to minimize plastics in your house just because you want to "do the right thing" for recycling and the environment, you're barking up the wrong tree, because those good intentions can't hold out forever against the allure of Starbucks and Lunchables. No, your reasoning behind making your life as plastic-free as possible should be because of your own personal health concerns. The toxic outgassing of ALL plastics is the first and best reason you should want to get it out of your house or apartment right now, today, this minute.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Babies poisoned, no one cares

On October 12, 2005, ABC News reported:

"Babies who use plastic toys may be at risk later in life, according to a report released today that shows that many products used by babies and young children contain toxic chemicals. Phthalates and toxic flame-retardants were present in 18 of 25 products tested by the Environment California Research and Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The study was released today in San Francisco, as well as 21 other states. The report calls on a ban on the most toxic chemicals in children's products. There are currently no restrictions on these chemicals in children's products."

No kidding! This is something that has been known for years and years and it took someone until 2005 to even begin to do something about it. Well, for millions of people who gnawed on these toxic toys as tots, it's too little too late.

Two years later, almost to the day, on October 17, 2007:

California Bans Hazardous Chemical in Plastic Baby Toys. Why did it take two years between being informed of toxic baby toys and legislation actually being signed? I know politics can be a slow process, but fuck. Two years?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jeffrey Scott Holland cancels "Project Egg" to help save oceans

Artist Jeffrey Scott Holland has dispersed green plastic eggs around the country at Easter time for the past two years. The eggs contained his artwork and fun and weird prizes and has apparently been very popular in a "scavenger hunt" kind of way.

Now, just months before his third and most ambitious "Project Egg" was to have hidden eggs all over the planet, Holland has announced he's changed his mind and is shutting the whole thing down.


Because thanks to the growing throng of voices speaking the truth about plastic's dangers, Holland learned of the sickening damage to the world's oceans being caused in places like The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We applaud Holland for having the bravery to put aside his career goals in order to help protect the planet, and welcome him as a new soldier in the anti-plastic war!

Here's his press release about it all.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Plastic bags in China

Three billion plastic bags are used in China every day.

Every day.

And that's not three million, it's three billion. I repeat, pedantically, Every day.

Reportedly, a plan to charge customers in stores a small amount per bag is in the works. But I'll believe it when I see it. And even if it dissuades half of China's population to abandon the bags, that still leaves 1.5 BILLION plastic bags PER DAY.

After foisting poisonous children's toys and plastic-tainted cat food on us, what's next?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Recycling is a lie

So many of you folks have been trying to do the right thing and diligently saving your plastic items for recycling, separating the different kinds of plastics from each other. Well, guess what. You're wasting your fucking time.

Of the seven recycling classifications for plastic materials, only two of them are deemed usable by the plastic recyclers in the USA. The rest of it ends up sent to countries like China who burn it unsafely as fuel (making some serious pollution) or they recycle it in a crude and unsafe manner and send it right back to us in the form of all their crappy toxic products.

Failing that, it just gets dumped in landfills. After all your hard work trying to separate your trash for recycling bins.

And what about the two types of plastic that did get recycled? Mostly they get made into plastic bags, which starts the whole problem all over again.

The answer to the plastics problem is not recycling. Recycling plastics keeps them around and that's not a good thing. Since we know plastics outgas chemicals and are mucking around with our health even in a optimum situation, we don't want them around at all, recycled or not.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bottled water is a joke

It's bad enough that people are so easily hoodwinked into believing that bottled water is somehow inherently superior to tap water (don't they know that much of it actually IS tap water??), but it's doubly bad that the result is millions of empty plastic bottles ending up in the landfills year after year.

Even with snooty spring water bottling plants that claim extreme purity, there's really no watchdogs in place to monitor the process on an ongoing basis. If, one or two days a week, these companies quietly filled their tanks with municipal water straight from the tap, how would anyone know?

In fact, in many cases we'd probably be better off if they did cheat and use tap water, because your local municipal water company is required by law to test water quality weekly and make the results a matter of public record. Bottled water companies are required to do no such thing. (And they don't.)

Then there's plastic outgassing, which leaches yummy phthalates and xenoestrogens into your fancy yuppie water. All plastic outgasses, including baby toys, water bottles, food containers, and the very computer I am typing these words on now. We're surrounded by outgassing plastics at all times, and there's isn't much we can do about a lot of it. But what we can do is reduce our exposure to it as much as possible, and eliminate all contact of our food and drink with plastics.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mission Statement

We believe that all plastic production should cease immediately in the United States, and that economic pressure be applied to other countries to follow our example. There is already enough plastic in existence to supply industrial needs for it via recycling what already exists. Once plastic is created, it's here to stay, and the Earth's ecosystem can't withstand much more of it polluting the environment. It's got to be stopped. Now.