Are you worried that you’re ruining your organic garden with toxic plastic supplies and tools? Learn how to choose safe flower pots, trays and hoses!
We never dreamed how difficult it would be to find PVC-free baby/kid pools, floaties, life jackets and toys. After 5 years of searching, you'd think we would have quite a long list of options – but that's not the case. Summer's here, so have a look ahead at our newly updated list along with tips for avoiding pool toys that are generally made from PVC.
Products Typically Made with PVC
Inflatable Pools, Floaties and Toys
We found that almost all inflatable toys are made from PVC (usually listed as Vinyl). In fact, we didn't find a single one made from an alternative material, as there still doesn't seem to be a suitable substitute after five years of searching.
We realize that it's almost impossible to avoid them, so if you can't find an alternative product to meet your needs, we suggest you consider buying them used. This gives them a chance to off-gas before using it with your children, and also helps reduce the use of PVC (which is regarded as the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics).
Keep in mind that buying used doesn't help with phthalates, lead and other toxins common to PVC. We don't have the man (or woman!) power to research every single inflatable pool toy to find out which are phthalate-free, so you may want to contact the manufacturer before buying used items. Please note that this category includes the spring style floats as seen here, here, here and here. We confirmed with several manufacturers that the inflatable ring inside the nylon casing is made of PVC.
Dense Foam Life Vests and Mats
Most dense foam kickboards, life vests and mats are made from closed-cell PVC foam and are covered in a layer of waterproof vinyl. Even the floaties made from non-PVC foam were mostly covered with a layer of PVC on the outside. You can identify them by their slightly rubbery exterior that's sometimes shiny. You can see an example of a PVC life vest here.
Life Vests with Neoprene or Nylon Covering
We were surprised to learn that most of our good old standby life vests were made with a PVC foam core. Their neoprene and nylon covering hides the interior, so be sure to contact the manufacturer to confirm what type of foam is used for buoyancy.
PVC-free Foam Core Life Jackets
UPDATE: We're so happy to report that we've been able to locate a handful of completely PVC-free life vests since we first researched this subject. These life jackets are made primarily with Gaia foam, NBR (nitrile butadiene rubber) foam or polyethylene foam.
PVC-free Pools, Floaties, Noodles and Mats
Polyethylene and EVA Foam Floaties, Noodles and Mats
Noodle style pool toys are usually made from polyethylene foam, which is PVC-free. This material is often used in packaging and as insulation as well. It can be identified by its more lightweight feel and porous appearance as compared to the dense, heavy PVC foam. Also, it typically doesn't have an exterior covering like PVC foam does. We found these floaties, mats and toys made from non-toxic EVA or polyethylene foam.
Hard-sided Polyethylene Kid Pools
Thank goodness there are still old-fashioned molded pool made with PVC-free polyethylene around! They are getting harder to find, but we've seen them at Lowes here and here, at Academy Sports here. There's a great hard-sided pool made by Little Tikes, the Butterfly Beach Sandbox and Wading Pool here, and also the Step2 Play & Shade Pool pictured below.
Be sure to look for recycling codes #2, #4 and #5 because some hard-sided pools like this one are made with PVC.
What PVC-free pool toys have you found in your own research?
*NOTE: Edited to remove the H2OGO! My First Frame Pool after receiving conflicting info on ingredients (sounds like there may be PVC in the lining after all too!).
Have you ever wondered about the safety of the plastic wrap used by grocery stores for cheese and meats? It looks like the same type of plastic wrap that most of us use at home, right? And we've learned that the major plastic wrap brands (Saran, Glad, etc.) are made from low density polyethylene (LDPE, #4) which is considered a safer plastic. But with a little digging, you'll quickly find that most of the plastic wrap used by supermarkets is made from a PVC based plastic (#3), not to mention the styrofoam tray (#6) its sitting in! This type of plastic wrap is often referred to as “cling wrap” or “food wrap film” and is more durable, airtight and moisture resistant.
We've discussed the woes of PVC a lot over the last two years, but how does it affect our food as a plastic wrap? In order to be soft and stretchy, PVC requires a plasticizer – many of which are toxic to humans. The Mindful Momma explains why we should be concerned:
These PVC-based cling wraps contain a liquid plasticizer called DEHA (Di-ethylhexyl). While the FDA considers it safe for food use, numerous studies have confirmed that DEHA can leach out of plastic wrap and into food. Since DEHA is a possible human carcinogen that affects the liver in particular, it might be a good idea to avoid it. Foods like cheese and deli meats are of the most concern because they are capable of absorbing higher quantities of DEHA. Also, vinyl chloride, the main building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Apparently, there's a lot of controversy about whether plastic wrap is really harmful or not, but my feeling is – stay on the safe side – especially when kids are involved.
How to Choose PVC-free Deli Packaging
Avoiding PVC food wrap isn't easy. The best way to start is to ask your butcher to prepare the cuts of meat you want and wrap it in paper. Most butcher or freezer paper is coated with wax or polyethylene which are better alternatives. As for blocks of cheese, look for packages with Ziploc style closures, and plastic packages that have been heat-sealed, because most of these bags are made from polyethylene.
Of course the best way to locate PVC-free food is to purchase fresh ingredients from farmer's markets or through Community Supported Agriculture programs.
Eco-friendly Paper Wrap
- Green Wacks Earth Friendly Food Wrap
- Tenderlicious Pink Butcher Kraft Paper
- EcoCraft Natural Freezer Paper
- EcoCraft Soy Wax Deli Paper
- Beyond Gourmet Unbleached Parchment Paper
P.S. Be sure to check out our all-time favorite reusable wrap too! The Abeego Beeswax Wraps come in many different sizes and meet most of our food storage needs.
A reader asks, “Do you know of any PVC-free air mattresses?
That seems to be the question of the century! Almost ALL inflatable products are made from PVC, which can contain hormone-disrupting phthalates, lead and other nasty chemicals.
We're a camping family, so it's something we've been actively searching for over the last three years, and we finally hit the jackpot with six great options.
PVC-free Air Mattress Guide
- KingCamp 2-Person Ultra Light Camping Airbed
- AeroBed Pakmat
- Aerobed EcoLite
- ALPS Mountaineering Velocity Air Bed
- Lightspeed Outdoors 2 Person Air Bed Mattress
- Lightspeed Outdoors Self Inflating Camp Sleep Pad
- NeoAir Trekker
- NeoAir Dream
- Luxury Map Air
That's all we've been able to find in the world of inflatable mattresses. Have we missed any? We'll update our list as we gather more info. And while we really, REALLY want one of these new PVC-free air mattresses, there's no reason to toss one made from PVC until it's time is up.