Humor by Diane Farr

Every playgroup my kids attend and every grocery checkout line I'm stuck in with other mothers subjects me to yet another discussion about the dangers of plastic. Bottles, plates, utensils, food containers, sunglasses, DVDs and every toy in my house are coming to get me and mine, say the ladies. Never mind the massive islands of discarded plastic now clogging our planet's seaways, creating an environmental threat as worrisome as the BP oil spill killing all those quack-quacks and fishies.

But back to the polymer minefield of my home: moms are advised to reduce all our use of plastics. warns, "If you're serving your dinner on plastic, you're likely eating a little plastic for dinner." What the heck am I supposed to use then?

I sometimes forget that plastics haven't always been a ubiquitous part of our households. When I was a toddler, milk bottles were made of glass and my school sandwiches were wrapped in foil and I drank water from a tap right until college when I started drinking beer from one. Our house didn't even have Tupperware until the 1980s and it was another 10 years before we had a microwave, so we never heated it.

But today, plastic is everywhere in my kitchen -- from the Brita I "purify" water in, to the spatula I flip my free-range eggs with, to the ice cube tray I'm storing precious breast milk in.

It couldn't all be bad, right? This is America! Our government and the nice capitalists at the plastics companies -- as well as folks like BP CEO yachtsman Tony Hayward -- wouldn't purposely harm their own customers. This isn't like lead paint or tainted beef or aluminum in deodorant or fluoride in toothpaste or mercury in fish or carcinogens in mattresses or gases in carpeting. No. It's not like demanding 37 immunizations within the first 18 months of a child's life! Besides, I see corporate America went so far as to label plastics from 1 to 7 right on their products! Every container that touches my body has a 7 on it, so that must be the high end.

Oh, wait now. I'm googling "number 7 plastic" and it does not sound so lucky. Number 7 denotes "PC or polycarbonate which can leach the hormone-disruptor bisphenol A especially when heated or chilled."

What does "leach" mean? When I hear "leach," I think "leech": a blood-sucking thing in the swamps of Mississippi -- and I don't mean Tony Hayward. Is someone making a verb out of this "leach" noun and merely changing a vowel in an attempt to hide the fact that plastic can suck the good stuff out of foods or beverages and spit out cancer?

I don't want to get hysterical. It seems everything I own can only hurt me if I antagonize this otherwise well-behaved compound by making it hot or cold. I'm sure the FDA, CDC and maybe even the ATF have looked into this potential disaster and made sure this provokable composite is no where near my dairy/soy/gluten-free turkey bacon.

Yet I could swear that's a 7 on my water jug. And another on the "microwave safe" container I put my husband's lunch in. And more on my infants' bottles that I put in boiling water to warm milk and then sterilize in the microwave in another plastic container, daily!

Now I'm glued to the TV, waiting for a news channel to tell me the truth about everything I've ever bought from Target, Costco and Walmart. While here, I'm rubbing diaper cream and petroleum (Hi, Tony!) jelly on my child from a plastic container. Could it also be true that perfumes provoke plastic, causing it to leach more? And does plastic have actual feelings that get hurt and cause it to retaliate by leaching?

I'm feeling really unsafe. In my own kitchen. In fear of waking the sleeping tiger in my plastic, I'm loading my kids into my carbon-producing SUV -- into their recalled and then un-recalled car seats -- to head over to McDonald's and get them some food from the dollar menu. It still comes in cardboard, thank goodness.

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - Mommy's Little Polymer | Diane Farr

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