Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Phthalates = Warning!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sniiiiifffff... ahhhh, that new car smell. The smell of a new shower curtain as I hang it in the bathroom. You may not share the liking of these smells and if so, that's a good thing. There are few times when I will use this blog as a soap box, but this one hits way too close to home. Phthalates - Do you know what they are? Do you know the damage they can do? After watching an episode of 60 Minutes the other night, I am now fearful of something I never even knew existed just days ago. Phthalates are chemicals found in soft plastics like shower curtains, shampoos, carpeting and cosmetics. And, they are challenging me to take a drastic look at what is in my home and around my kids. Why am I so concerned? Because my youngest has one of the male birth defects that has been linked with high levels of Phthalates in the body. This infuriates me and pushes me to action. I am fully aware that my son's condition may not be a direct result, but my question is, "why take a chance?"

I am going through my house to rid my family of these toxins a little at a time. Here's how:

Toys and foods will no longer be stored in plastic baggies (I rarely use these, but now it's a no brainer). I will be making zipper pouches of all sizes and fabrics to store toys and food. Lotta Jansdotter has a great velcro pouch tutorial in her book and drawstring versions for sale on her site. Skip to My Lou has an easy tutorial for lined zipper pouches. And, Made by Joel even created a few for his kids.

My morning shower rituals will change drastically. I am going to attempt to make my own shampoo using this recipe. Shampoo and liquid soaps will be contained in glass bottles. My old plastic shower cap (yes, I use a shower cap) is being retired for my old standby of a simple handkerchief. And my scrubby? It's being replaced with - gasp! - a washcloth! How novel. Luckily my shower doors are glass - no curtain needed. I will be removing the one in the boys' bathroom. They only take baths in there anyway.

the old way

glass oil bottles turned shampoo bottles

ikea has these lovelies for $2.99

Makeup - ugghh. This one is tough. I don't use a lot of it but when I do, I love it. I use bare minerals for my face (I have adult acne - no fun) and mascara most of the time. But what struck me the most in the makeup category is the lipstick mentioned in 60 Minute's piece. Lipstick? I lick that stuff off my lips and kiss my kiddos. I don't want to eat phthalates. Yuck. That's where Aveda comes in. They use natural ingredients and have a "green ingredient policy." Wow. Sold.

Leftovers will no longer be heated up in plastic containers and I will begin to make a transition to a mix of glass, paper and metal storage containers. Big change here, but I think it's worth it. Wouldn't you agree? I know all of this will be a culture shock, but convenience and ease no longer matter when your children's health is at risk. I still worry about things like my youngest son's pacifier and his crib mattress. I don't even know if those items are made in anything "natural" or eco-friendly. But I definitely want to find out and do all that I can do to rid our home of these chemicals. xo


  1. thanks for this post. Its something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I have been wanting to try the cloth lunch bags too. You've got me thinking!

  2. Just watched the 60 min clip...interesting that these Phthalates can be taken out of products...if they can be taken out what's the point of them being "put in" in the first place?, wonder what other chemical they are replaced with!?!, and why wouldn't more companies phase them out!?! All very interesting. Certainly LOTS of stuff in our world that's not good for us and we should avoid, but the reality is it's part of our fallen world and would be impossible to escape them all! I know when your family has personally be effected by something that could have at least been minimized it brings you to a whole new level of wanting to take action. I think the hormones put in foods that are effecting the rate at which or little girls develop is a similar issue!

  3. my biggest issue is what to store freezer food in. any thoughts.

  4. Thanks for this post! I will be making some changes too!!

  5. Nicole - that is a stumper. If I come across any ideas, I'll let you know!

  6. good post, friend! i'm with you 100% on all of it. BUT, i DO have the same body wash as that smell!!

    p.s.--nicole, you can freeze pyrex bowls...that's what we use here. they have plastic lids...but we don't warm them up with the lids on them anyway...and i'm not sure that the lids have phthalates in them anyway. just a thought.

  7. Ikea makes PEVA shower curtains which are safer than the usual PVC. I've been trying to do all the same things as you, Brooke! Have you heard of the Skin Deep Database ( It's the best place to check the safety of your personal care products.

  8. Pottery Barn Kids sells lunch and snack containers that are BPA and phthalate free! And Crate and Barrel has some great glass storage containers that can be used in the fridge. I am in the process of deplastic-ing my kitchen! Thanks again for the post, Brooke!


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