Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 2 - my new fear of plastics

So here I am excited, giddy even, to start my eco groove and I happen upon a radio station talking about our current water bottle crisis.  I listen intently and come away with an intense phobia of plastic and an endless supply of guilt for my daily actions.  Don't get me wrong, I commend all those ecowarriors out there, but seriously, do you need to threaten cancer and death with every cause and toxin?  Yes, I am sure these things are not good for us, but when you tell me that leaving a bottle of water in my car will give my young susceptible children cancer do you think you have given me the strength and courage to make a change?  No, you have just scared the %^& out of me and now I feel like a horrible mother.  Thanks.

After listening to the commentary on how water bottles are the crux of human demise I told my husband that we weren't going to use any plastic bottles and can't leave anything in the car.  He looked at me, looked around the car and said "You realize that most of the parts of this car are plastic, right?"  Which I replied with the normal, well thought out response of "Well, then, we can't take the kids anywhere in the car."

This seems to be the issue for me, if I try to immerse myself in saving the planet and working towards the right cause I so quickly get overwhelmed with the doomsday rants and give up.  I don't want to do anything to hurt my children, I never would, no one would.  So why not just make a suggestion like, "you know, it isn't good for the environment or for our bodies to heat up plastic with drinking water or food in it".  "Try to remember to not leave bottles in your car when it is warm out as the off gassing isn't great to breathe in".  "Don't microwave food in plastic containers if you can help it."  These things seem fairly simple and if put in this light I can do them and think of myself as a good mom doing the right things for my kid.  When you tell me that I have already ruined my children's health you really are only making me feel guilty and scared.

What about the toys?  I just recently learned that rubber ducky toys for the bathtub are made of plastics that should not be around children (or anyone really), especially not soaking in their hot bath water.  So why do the toy makers make them?  Why put smiling faces on them and put them in cartoons with people playing with them?  It's not like we have an inner need for toy ducks in our bathtubs, we just buy them because they are cute and innocent and seem like a safe toy for our children and babies to play with.  I even have one made to check the temperature in the baby bathtub, I honestly assumed I was being a loving caring mom putting that duck in his tub with him.  Come to think of it, I even gave toy ducks away at my son's birthday party.  ACK! 

What do I do now?  I am suffering from a serious ducky dilemma.  Do I contact all the parents I know and tell them to get their toy ducks far away from their children?  Am I completely overreacting?  What do I do with the ducks I have?  If I throw them away I am contributing more plastic to the landfill, and doing the wrong thing.  If I leave them in the bathtub I am creating a health hazard.  If I put them in the garage sale pile I am now hurting someone else's kids.  Oh no, the panic and anxiety are welling, ACK AGAIN!

Okay, first just breathe. Now I need to focus on what I can do. 

Recap from what I learned yesterday:
  1. be water conscious - I did take a shower today, but I was super quick and I also remembered to turn the water off while I was brushing my teeth.
  2. save electricity - I remembered to unplug the hairdryer, but then i used it and can't remember if I unplugged it again...  Turn lights off in all the rooms (which Brian just pointed out to me that I forgot the one in the bathroom)
  1. Use less plastic!  Start by figuring out what to do with rubber duckies...
  2. Tell people about it, not in a scary way, but in a productive way. 
  3. Apologize to all of my friends who I gave rubber duckies to: SORRY!  I hope you are reading this!
  4. Buy the book "Slow Death by Rubber Ducky" and read it so I can know what other chemicals I need to be aware of.  Or better yet, go see if the local library has it!
  5. Stop feeling guilty for all the toxins that are presented to my children and tackle them one at a time. 
Thanks for reading.  Hopefully I will soon find an answer to my ducky dilemma.


  1. Oh Rachel, what a challenge you are taking on! I truly commend you for all this and hope you continue to breathe through it all.

    I seem to go in waves - oddly with cosmetic products, usually. I'll try to go all natural because every single ingredient seems to be toxic and cancer-causing, slowly let a non-natural deodorant or shampoo slip back in (because the alternative isn't working and costs 3 times as much), feel ok for awhile, get hit by the guilt and awareness wave that I'm harming myself and the environment, and whoomp - back natural.

    You know what you are doing. You are not killing any child via a rubber ducky. :) (We all survived with toys that were much worse) Your awareness is a HUGE step in the right direction...don't let the state of how things are freak you out. (Been there, done that - not pretty) ;) It is the small steps that will make the difference - the big ones will just make us trip.

    *sigh* Now I'm heading upstairs to have a little chat with the rubber ducky....

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Lisa, always need reminders to focus on the small steps because that is what this is truly about. :)

  3. go to the library's website and request it, they will transfer it to the closest library to you and let you know when it gets there. :)

  4. Being a topic near and dear to my heart, I love that this is the second post on your blog. Just wanted to say that your state's very own lean and green Department of Ecology shares your sentiments and is hard at work (when not skiing of course) at:

    -reducing nasties

    -reducing toxics in plastics

    -and YES we are even in the middle of heated negotiations with RUBBER DUCKY concerning his toxicity in the bath tub

    It's a tough problem to wrap your head around, but a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Thanks for shedding some much needed light on an underexposed topic. And remember, your state government loves you.

  5. Thanks for the comment Teague, I checked out the links, they are very interesting. I am going to have to spend some more time looking at what the state is doing about kid's toys and see how I can support the effort. It is encouraging to know we have advocates out there looking out for us!