I’m not a morning person. Never have been. My daughter is a
terrible/odd sleeper but the upshot to her late nights is that she wakes up
late (for a kid), too. If I had to do morning duty, her schedule makes it
possible even for me. But I’m actually not "on" in the mornings as I tend to do
most of my writing late at night or in the morning before her father goes to
work. All of this preamble is getting to a story, I swear. I happened to wake
up with her one morning over the long weekend so her father could have a much
deserved sleep-in. I do like the opportunity to be in charge of her breakfast
and we have fun things we make together just-us-two on these rare mornings. We
especially like to make buckwheat pancakes that I load with all sorts of
goodies (flaxseed oil, wheat germ, organic eggs, blueberries etc.) and make
them even more special by dotting the resulting misshapen things with (the most
miniscule amount of) maple syrup that comes from someone near our CSA farm.
Lately, the kid wakes up most mornings requesting yogurt before she even says good morning. This is what she asked me for. She has always been on the tiny side – weight and otherwise – for her age so long ago when we were a bit concerned about this, we gave her packaged baby yogurt. I went back and forth on the decision to do this for a while – I’m not someone who willingly gives the kid sugar and baby yogurts are oddly loaded with the stuff. But she wasn’t eating plain whole fat yogurt, even with organic fruit preserves stirred into it, so I gave in. I wanted her to have the extra calories and fat. Sadly these things are a bit addictive and we’ve never been able to wean her off of them. So I’ve accepted them in our life, especially as I'm not doing breakfast and don't have to witness her devouring them daily. I'm rarely an out-of-sight-out-of-mind mom, so this is a big concession.
So, on this morning, I gave her her yogurt, which she ate in 3 seconds flat. Then she requested another one. I declined, distracted her with some fresh-from-the-farmers-market (unsprayed!) strawberries and went into the kitchen to start the pancake process. I rinsed out the yogurt cup and absent-mindedly looked at the bottom of it before tossing it into the recycling bin.
To my shock and horror there was a number 6 on the bottom of it!!!!!!!!!!
For those of you who don’t follow plastic numbers, 6 is polystyrene. Styrene is a possible endocrine distrupter/carcinogen. (For information about what each of those recycling code numbers means, see this decoder from The Daily Green.) It’s a plastic we tell readers to avoid entirely in The Complete Organic Pregnancy. It’s something I go out of my way to avoid. I had never looked at the bottom of the babe’s yogurt cups because it never occurred to me that Stonyfield, the environmentally-concerned company that makes her organic baby yogurt, a company so concerned with recycling that they give their old cups to another company to turn into toothbrushes, razors and the like (Recycline.com), would ever in a zillion years use plastic No. 6. Needless to say I was seriously pissed off.
I shot off an email to their publicist asking for a comment, which I’ll post here in comments as soon as I get. And then I started searching online to see if anyone else has noticed this, and if so, what Stonyfield has responded to them. There’s some information here, and some more in comments, from citizen-scientist readers here and here.
On their site (stonyfield.com), they have the following explanation:
Does Stonyfield Farm use ... Polystyrene (#6 plastic) in its packaging?
We do use polystyrene cups for our yogurt multipack offerings and our pint sized Oikos Organic Greek yogurt. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Union (EU) consider polystyrene (#6) containers safe for food use. The FDA requires the styrene content of the packaging be less than 5,000 parts per million (ppm). The styrene content in Stonyfield Farm’s polystyrene packaging does not exceed 400 ppm (12 times less than the allowable limit). For those who prefer, our Organic Greek yogurt can also be purchased in 5.3 oz. containers made of polypropylene (#5 plastic); and our fat free, lowfat and whole milk yogurts can also be purchased in 6 oz. and 32 oz. polypropylene (#5) containers.
At Stonyfield Farm, we are continuously searching for packaging materials with lower environmental impacts since all packaging can have an adverse effect on the environment. We have made great strides to reduce the overall amount of packaging material we use, because less packaging means less consumption of resources, less pollution, less solid waste and a lower carbon footprint.
Looking to the future, we are actively working toward the day when we can get our product and packaging to you in ways that will not create waste or deplete our natural resources. Ideally, when you're finished eating your yogurt, you'll consume the container, or toss it onto your compost pile to return to its carbon roots. We’re not there yet, but we are currently working with our suppliers on alternative solutions including cups made from carbohydrates or excess agricultural materials such as cornhusks or potato skins.
Well, until that future day arrives, Stonyfield, you just lost a (loud-mouthed, well-connected) customer. I refuse to feed my child something stored in a questionable material that is unrecyclable where I live and totally unbiodegradable, something I have known for a long time to avoid and thought I was avoiding. I guess I should get up earlier in the morning. Here’s hoping the kid will accept my stance.
Meanwhile, join me in emailing Stonyfield to tell them just how much you’re looking forward to feeding the tots yogurt stored in better material (even a better plastic).
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