PVC-free is the Way to Be
by Alicia Voorhies, RN
Many Halloween costumes are made from PVC (#3, vinyl). PVC has become known as the “poison plastic” because it leaches toxic chemicals such as phthalates, chlorine, dioxin and lead. So it's worthwhile to pick and choose your way around masks and accessories (like noses and teeth) made without vinyl. You need to know what you're looking for because so few products are actually labeled.
How to Know if a Costume is Made from PVC
The first line of defense is always to contact the manufacturer and confirm exactly what plastics are used before you even head to the store. But if you find yourself staring at a row of unlabeled costumes on store shelves, try to avoid anything that looks, feels or smells like vinyl: pliable plastic with a somewhat shiny surface and that unmistakable “new toy” smell.
While We're on the Topic of Store Bought Costumes…
Unless your kids live in their costumes like my three year old nephews – er, I mean Super Heroes – why spend your hard earned money on something that will probably be worn once? No one could ever describe me as a seamstress, but even I make throw together a costume from stuff I have around the house. Not so sure? Check out some great ideas for simple, eco-friendly costumes at the Mother Nature Network.
SafeMama wrote about another smart, affordable option: A Costume Swap. It's a great way to save some money and reduce waste. And let's be honest, if you happen to know a little someone who feels as though they might “expire” without the latest PVC-loaded costume, at least it will have had the chance to off-gas before your child wears it.
Green Halloween Tips
- Make and give healthy snacks, or try candy alternatives: non-toxic tattoos, stickers, pencils, erasers and crayons.
- Choose eco-friendly attire: Halloween costumes and makeup are expensive and many are toxic and wasteful.
- Grab reusable bags to help make a dent in the 100 billion plastic bags used in the U.S. each year.
Check it Out
Slow Death by Rubber Duck
This a story of two concerned men hoping to shed light on everyday toxic chemical exposure by experimenting on themselves. They focus on a new kind of pollution. We're not looking for external evidence in factory smoke stacks and slimy rivers; we're talking about insidious, internal pollution. A toxic soup within our bodies.
This is Your Brain on PVC
Did you know that over 90% of phthalates are used in PVC products, like the vinyl flooring in our kids' schools? They're banned in toys, but widespread in our homes and schools.
Scientists are sounding the alarm with a recent study linking mothers' phthalate levels and their children's brain development.