Bottles, sippy cups and BPA – oh my!

All right, I’ve dug in and done a little bit of research and here’s what I’ve come up with on the issue of returning #7 plastics for a full refund– it really is true! Large chain stores all over North America are actually doing this, as concerned parents bring in their baby bottles, sippy cups, and other child feeding products, that contain harmful BPA toxins. I’m so encouraged to see the recognition of this dangerous chemical, and such an effort to get it off the shelves and out of use for our babies and children’s sake.

Since I didn’t fully explain it in my last post, I’ll just briefly give you a run down on why on earth you might consider returning these items (or at least, discontinuing their use). Are they being recalled? No. However, much information has come out in the last little while on the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA), indicating that it leaches from hard plastic items (such as children’s sippy cups and Nalgene water bottles, as well as plastic linings in canned foods), particularly when the plastic is heated, such as in the dishwasher, or when a cup is left in hot car, etc.

In a very small nutshell, BPA is a concern because it mimics the hormone estrogen and is considered to be a hormone disrupter. Studies are suggesting that it may play a role in health problems such as cancer, infertility, or even hyperactivity in children. It is particularly damaging to babies in the womb, and to infants and children, whose immature systems are particularly susceptible to damage.

Here are a few links that will give you some more information on BPA:

The Bisphenol-A Debate: A Suspect Chemical in Plastic Bottles and Cans

Bisphenol-A Warning Bells

Bisphenol A: Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food: Consumer tips to avoid BPAexposure

Wikipedia- Bisphenol-A

And tips on avoiding them:

Buying Guide: Plastic Containers

Buying Guide: Baby Bottles

EWG’s Guide to Infant Formula

The Z Report: A Directory of Bisphenol-A In Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups

BPA Free Bottle and Sippy Cup Cheat Sheet

And a few links to safer products:

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Foogo Stainless Steel Sippy Cup with Handles

Evenflo Glass Nurser Bottles

BornFree Glass Baby Bottles

Now back to the issue at hand… can you really return your plastic cups, bottles, etc. for a full refund? The answer is yes, in most stores (so far I’ve heard of Walmart, London Drugs, Zellers, Superstore/Loblaws). I attempted to call this afternoon, but wasn’t able to get through and talk with a real person at Superstore.

If you look on the bottom of the item, and see this symbol, then it may be brought back to the store where it was purchased:

Now, it seems as though most stores will take them even without a receipt, although a few people have had issues with employees not looking through the list of all of the acceptable items, or being able to find the SKU # of the particular item you are bringing back. Here is a link to a post (thanks Tara!) on this very topic, and the most interesting part is reading through the comments below (beware– they get a bit catty towards the end).

One concern that a few of the commenters had which I would also be concerned about it people taking advantage of stores by searching for old items, not even being used anymore, or that they can’t remember where they were purchased from, and taking them back anyways, just for the cash. My feeling is that this is an opportunity to take those items you are currently using, and put the refund towards safer, replacement items, and buy them from the store granting the refund, if at all possible. It is so excellent that these stores are taking such a positive step, and I think it’s important that we treat them fairly and respectfully in the matter.

The issue was also brought up yesterday of whether we should even consider returning them at all, as the responsibility may simply be on us, the consumers, who willingly purchased the item, and that although the stores are offering the possibility of return, perhaps we shouldn’t necessarily take them up on it (such a paraphrase, Pieces- I hope it summarizes the outworkings of your comment yesterday).

Does anyone else have any other information about returning items? Has anyone done this successfully, and if so, where? What have you purchased to replace your old items? And what do you think about the moral issue of returning the items– is it our own financial responsibility, or the stores/manufacturer’s to refund/replace these items?

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  1. I just went through my plastics and found a few #7’s that I’ve now gotten rid off. I appreciate all the time you put into this post to keep us informed. Thanks Stephanie!

  2. Thanx for all the great links! I have gone through my cups, etc. and did not have any #7’s. I am lucky where I live in Alberta my recycle plant does take all plastics. The only thing it does not take is styrofoam. It is tough in today’s world to have a total safe free zone. we can only do what we can. It is very overwhelming and maddening that we have let our precious world go in a direction that is to be easier, but at what cost.

  3. I checked all of my sippy cups and bottles and they are not #7’s. That was good to know. Our family just recently got rid of our Nalgene bottles and got SIGG bottles. Our kids love their new water bottles, especially since they got to pick out exactly what they wanted.

  4. Well I checked out the Z Report, and found numerous products that we were using. I gathered them all up and took them to Zellers, but they only took a few things back – they didn’t have everything on their list that contained BPA, including my Avent Isis breast pump. I went back two days later, and they had updated their list, so I was able to return my breast pump! Hooray! Luckily I don’t have to replace it right away, as I am currently “between” babies… lol.. but when I do I hope they come out with a safe alternative, hopefully with glass bottles. Wal Mart was also wonderful, and took back whatever Zellers didn’t. Now I’m just waiting for my local baby supply store to get their Safe Sippies in – apparently they are backordered until May. We’re actually working on purging ALL of our plastics, as I don’t feel confident enough that any of them are safe, and I want to be proactive in my family’s health, and not wait for the government to decide what is safe and what isn’t.

    Thanks for the post, Stephanie! Informative, as usual.


  5. What a nicely put together post. I love how you provided links for info, alternative products, etc. You put a lot of effort into these posts, Stephanie, and it shows. I especially like your idea to repurchase safe items at the store that issued a return, if possible. It is indeed a good way to thank the stores for offering refunds.

  6. Thanks so much for collecting all these links for us!

    I notice you didn’t include SIGG in your list of safer products. Are you concerned about what may be in the liners of SIGG bottles? We are phasing out plastic water bottles and I have GOT to decide between KK and SIGG . . . Just wondering your thoughts.

  7. It’s crazy to think that all this time we have been exposed to BPA but until this recent spur in interest over it, it was brushed under the rug. Our lives are consumed by BPA. It is in fillings in our teeth, it lines the metal in our canned foods, and in our plastic food containers. It is scary to know that BPA is found in most baby bottles and sippy cups. There are many new companies coming out with BPA free bottles though. As far as plastic drinking bottles for adults go, Camelbak has always been BPA free and Nalgene and REI are coming out with a BPA-free lines, too.

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