I went to the Bioneers conference last weekend. It was SO inspiring and there will be more about it in future posts. One of the speakers was Lois Gibbs, a mom from a small city in New York that you may have heard of, Love Canal. She told the amazing story of her becoming politicized in the late 1970s by what was happening to her kids and her neighbors. Local factories had dumped thousands of tons of toxics into their water, air and soil. Many people were sick and dying as a result.
The citizens of Love Canal proved that a blue-collar community with few resources could win against great odds (a multi-billion-dollar international corporation and an unresponsive government), using the power of the people. Lois has remained very active in environmental and health issues since then. At the end of her plenary speech she showed a clever little movie about one of the most insidious toxics found in our everyday environment - PVC.
I loved "The Meatrix", a flash movie about factory farming that made the rounds a couple years ago. The company that made it, Free Range Studios, created this new movie called "Sam Suds and the Case of PVC, the Poison Plastic" It also uses humor to teach people about the issues.
Did you know that the "new car smell" and new shower curtain smell comes from the poisonous off-gassing of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic? Or that children can be exposed to phthalates, a very poisonous chemical in PVC, by chewing on vinyl toys? PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life - from the factory to our homes to the trash bin. The European Parliament voted last year to permanently ban PVC and pthalates in children's toys. But, as usual, we are behind the times and US stores can still legally sell them.
PVC is sometimes marked on the bottom with the recycling symbol #3. However PVC cannot be effectively recycled due to the many different toxic additives used in it. The City of LA Recycling program will not accept plastic marked #3, and according to several sources, putting PVC in your recycling bin will contaminate the entire batch. You should check with your local program to be sure.
See which toy companies are still using PVC - Greenpeace's Report Card
Watch Sam Suds here and get lots more information on PVC.
This is a good plastics fact sheet for shoppers. It comes from a new blog I like, put together by the Children's Heath Environmental Coalition. For 90 days, CHEC is focusing on daily tips that will help people reduce exposure to chemicals, toxins, and pollutants.
Educate yourself and remove all PVC from your home. There are a lot of better alternatives. Like Sam says, "It's up to us".