sexta-feira, 28 de maio de 2010

What Can We Do About PVC, indeed...

(So cute. So filled with PVC)

Annie Leonard, director of The Story of Stuff Project, creator of the internet video sensation, and author of The Story of Stuff: The Book.

PG: Why is PVC at the top of your "worst offenders" toxins list? Why should we avoid it, and what are some better alternatives?
ANNIE SAYS: PVC is just one of many toxic materials in common use. But it makes me especially furious because so many safer alternatives exist! And it's the most toxic type of plastic at all stages of its life (production, use, disposal). Workers in vinyl chloride production factories have higher rates of liver cancer, brain cancer, lung cancer, lymphomas, leukemia and liver cirrhosis. Chemical additives in PVC, like phthalates (a group of suspected carcinogens and known reproductive toxins, which are put in PVC to make it more flexible) can leach out, migrating from toys into our children, from packaging into our food, and from our shower curtains into the air we breathe. Americans toss out up to 7 billion tons of PVC every year, with 2 to 4 billion tons of that going to landfills, where it leaches its toxic additives into the soil, water, and air. 

There’s no need to keep using it. If it was some toxic but life-saving material, then we could have a debate. But it just isn’t needed. Already dozens of companies have phased it out of products. Even whole cities have placed restrictions on it in Europe but it still permeates our homes, schools and hospitals (although many hospitals are phasing it out; visit Healthcare Without Harm for more information). 

Unlike other toxics that are added to a myriad of products, it is also easy to recognize PVC, so you can keep much – probably not all – of it out of your life. PVC containers are often labeled with a little 3 in a recycling logo on the bottom; get in the habit of checking. PVC is also readily identifiable by its horrible smell – think new shower curtain. Consider a fabric shower curtain instead of that plastic one. Store your leftovers in glass jars. Download Pass Up the Poison Plastic: The PVC-Free Guide for Your Family and Home

Whenever I do accidentally buy something (a new extension cord or a raincoat for my daughter) without realizing it contains PVC, I pack up the product and send it back to the manufacturer with a letter explaining why the product is unacceptable. If I can't find the manufacturer, I send it to the Vinyl Institute, an industry trade group in Washington DC. These guys make big bucks to defend the producers of PVC, so I figure they can deal with it. 

It’s toxic. It’s unnecessary. It shouldn’t be in our consumer products. You can help by joining the Poison Plastic Campaign led by the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice in New York City.


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