July Plastic Free Month — Q&A With Aida From Non Toxic Munchkin

July is Plastic Free month. It's the perfect time to start with fewer plastics in our lives. Today we have an Q&A section with Aida from Non Toxic Munchkin to talk about negative effects plastics bring to our lives and the planet, and how to start with few simple steps to replace some of the plastic we use in our lives. 

Q&A with Aida, Non Toxic Munchkin

Q. Could you introduce yourself a bit? 
Hi!  I am Aida Garcia-Toledo. I live in Los Angeles, California ( but am originally from Miami and lived overseas most of my life) am a mom to two crazy boys and the Founder of Non-Toxic Munchkin.   I founded Non-Toxic Munchkin over 11 years ago with the goal of making non-toxic living simpler and less overwhelming. For over a decade, with my philosophy of small steps =big impact,  I have been empowering and teaching families to take small steps to reduce toxin exposure, helping them create a balanced, non-toxic, healthy home. 

Q. What inspired you to get into non-toxic living? 
Nearly 20 years ago I watched my mother battle breast cancer. Her experience opened my eyes to the effects that environmental chemicals can have on our health. Thanks to my years working in investigative journalism, researching came naturally, and I dived deep into researching the impact of toxic chemicals on our health. When I became pregnant with my oldest son, I realized how overwhelming finding products that would not expose my baby to harmful chemicals could be- and yet how important it was. This is when I decided to dedicate my life to educating parents about the hazards of daily exposure to toxic chemicals and help them transition to a healthier and less chemically dependent lifestyle without adding stress.

Q. How does non-toxic living change you and your family's lives?
Low tox living is definitely an ongoing journey for all of us..including my family! At some point along the journey, however, we realized that the solution to ( almost) everything is using less and going back to basics and nature. Since we all live in a consumer driven society, I think that this a fundamental shift in thought that has taken place in our home and in most homes who undertake this ‘journey’.  

Q. How does plastic affect us and the planet?
So many ways- its quite tragic. In terms of our health, 2 main ways include: all plastics have been found to have the potential for endocrine disruption ( ie containing chemicals that can mess with our natural hormone balance). The continual exposure to small levels of these chemicals through many years have been linked to infertility, hormone related cancers, immune disorders  and neurodevelopment disorders like ADHD and autism.

Microplastics, which have been found in our bodies and even in newborn baby placentas, can lead to a list of health impacts, including inflammation, genotoxicity and oxidative stressEnvironment:Plastic is truly taking over our environment and doing more harm than I think many realize.By the time our kids are in their 30’s (2050)  it’s estimated that, by weight, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish, according to a 2016 study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.Plastic pollution is affecting wildlife, they eat the plastic and get stuck in plastic.  Plastics block digestive tracts, diminish the urge to eat, and alter feeding behavior, all of which reduce growth and reproductive output.  It seems to affect reef health and microplastics are increasingly found in fish we humans eat.  Making plastics, because they require petroleum,  generate harmful emissions into our atmosphere (a PET bottle generates more than 100 times the toxic emissions to air and water than making the same size bottle out of glass. )

Q. Where should we start with plastic free living?
Transitioning away from plastics, I have found, requires commitment. Some changes are easy and obvious, others require spending some time sourcing replacements, and most single use plastic replacements just require advance planning and preparation. Here are some great places to start:

1. At the grocery store avoid plastic packaged foods and produce. Instead choose: glass for mustard, ketchup, soups, milk, yogurt, nut butters, maple syrup etc. Avoid plastic produce bags: BYO canvas reusable

2. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE: One MILLION plastic bottles are purchased every minute in the world... and then they are discarded. The only way to avoid millions of plastic bottles going to the landfill for hundreds of years is bringing your own reusable bottle.  Search for bottles made with stainless steel or glass- ideally without any plastic parts.

3. When ordering deliver ask the restaurant NOT to include disposable cutlery with the meal.  Always avoid plastic straws too!Pay attention to your favorite products and the containers they come in. 

4. If they your favorite face cream, face cleaner, shampoo, laundry detergent etc come in plastic containers slowly start looking for replacement products that are offered in more sustainable packaging.   Baeo Baby, True Botanicals, OSEA, Meliora cleaning products, are just some of the brands I like that avoid most plastic in their packaging.

Choose wooden toy from Father's Factory over plastic toys for non toxic for your littles.

Q. Where should we start with non-toxic living?
One of the things I love most about non-toxic living, so much that it has become my philosophy, is simple: small changes = big impact. Any change you can make at home to decrease your exposure to any one chemical will have a big impact on you and your family's health.  So, no matter how small it might seem, start today!

1. TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF.
Your shoes bring in petroleum byproducts, pesticides, heavy metals, fecal matter, etc. Start the habit of leaving them by the front door.

2. OPEN YOUR WINDOWS, YEAR ROUND IF POSSIBLE.
The air inside our homes is more polluted than the air outside. Opening the windows, even for a couple of minutes, allows fresh air to circulate and nasty chemicals to leave your home.

3. CLEAN CLEANER.
Stop using toxic store-bought conventional cleaning products! Instead, make your own or choose a truly non-toxic brand. Conventional cleaners are filled with really bad chemicals- linked to everything from asthma to diabetes, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, neurotoxicity and cancer. Making your own safe cleaners is as easy as mixing 50% vinegar with 50% water.4. KEEP DUST LOW: Household dust accumulates tons of toxins including flame retardants, phthalates, phenols, lead, PFAS chemicals and more. Vacuum frequently with a HEPA filter vacuum and clean using a moist rag5.  WASH HANDS OFTEN:   Especially for children who tend to place their hands in their mouth, frequent hand washing (with a plain, non-toxic soap like castle soap) is a key yet easy way to reduce exposure to phthalates flame retardants and pfas (from dust they might touch while playing on the floor or with toys) and pesticides and heavy metals ( after playing outdoors).  Also keeps us all healthier year round.

Q. Anything else you'd like to add? 
Thank you so much for having me and for creating  and inspiring us all with your  timeless and truly special cameras and toys!

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