The Problem With Teflon

08.08.2017

0600

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Teflon became popular because it is non-reactive due to its strong carbon–fluorine bonds; it reduces friction and energy consumption of machinery when used as a lubricant. Though it was claimed to be the best-known chemical inventions of the 20th century, today, Teflon has been touted as a serious health hazard to humans as well as animals. When I found out about the dangers of teflon, I transitioned over to cast iron and stainless steel pots and pans. The research behind teflon is dangerous and jarring.

Non-stick cookware may cause cancer

The non-stick coating, used in Dupont Teflon pans, has been found to release one or more (up to 15) different toxic gases when heated to high temperatures. Did you know that non-sick cookware is made with a chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been labeled carcinogenic by a scientific review panel that advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This is a chemical that is being used in many household products from cookware, coated paper plates and even microwave popcorn bags. The side effects have been known for a long time, and one of the most written about is its effects on pet birds.

The worst issue behind Teflon pots and pans

As careful as we try to be – Teflon pots and pans can easily get scratched at some point. In fact, the truth is many people tend to use battered and scratched Teflon cookware. Teflon is usually used to cover aluminum which in itself is a dangerous metal – implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

What are some of  the health hazards faced?

  1. Male Infertility- The chemicals emitted from the heating of Teflon pans have recently been shown to be linked with higher rates of infertility. A recent Danish study suggested that exposure to PFOAs in fetal or later life accounted for decreased sperm production and morphologically abnormal sperm.
  2. Thyroid disease – A recent study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), goes on to confirm the association of thyroid disease with human exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Also the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) revealed that higher concentrations of PFOA in the blood of the surveyed people were linked to the occurrence of thyroid disease.
  3. Childbirth and reproductive problems – PFOA contamination of food, air and water supply has the potential to damage the reproductive systems of a large population of women. Inevitably causing difficulty in childbirth or birth defects. Scientists based at the University of California-Los Angeles, found that women with higher concentrations of PFOA in the blood stream (more than 3.9 ppb) experienced greater difficulty in conceiving than those with lesser PFOA concentrations. Also the chances of them being diagnosed with infertility were greater.
  4. Birth Defects – an individual living near the DuPont factory that produces Teflon products was born with one nostril and other facial defects. He claims that his mother who was working in the factory was exposed to PFOA while pregnant therefore he acquired those birth defects.
  5. Kills bird – when Teflon is heated to a high temperatures toxic fumes are emitted that are known to kill pet birds especially small birds such as budgies, finches, and cockatiels. Considering this the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that cookware and heated appliances comprising of non-stick coatings must carry a label that warns the hazard caused by the coating to pet birds.
  6. Carcinogenic – a recent study showed that when rats were injected with PFOA they developed brain tumors. PFOA the coating material used in Teflon products was also shown to be present in trace amounts in blood samples of people and lasted four years in the blood stream.
  7. Causes other diseases – animal research has shown that liver cancer has propelled with more exposure to PFOA’s and case reports suggest that the PFE fumes emitted by very hot Teflon coated utensils have caused pneumonia and inflammation in the lungs.
  8. Non Biodegradable – PTFE is non-biodegradable as it is made up of strong molecular bonds that make it durable and resistant to natural processes of degradation. Thus it tends to accumulate in the food chain causing sever damage.

How to avoid these circumstances?

The best way to protect you and your family is to use cookware made from: ceramic, stainless steel or glass. There’s clearly no argument as to whether conventional non-stick cookware has a negative impact on human health, so with that in mind, what are the alternatives?

1. Ceramic

Ceramic cookware is gaining popularity fast thanks to its ability to create a non-stick cooking surface while containing no traces of PTFE or PFOA.

Brands such as Neoflam are using the most advanced ceramic technology to produce durable and heat efficient non-stick coatings that are safer and more environmentally friendly than conventional non-stick cookware.

2. Cast Iron

Companies like Solid Teknics are manufacturing some incredibly high quality cast iron products which have a myriad of advantages over conventional non-stick cookware.

Cast iron is extremely rugged, easy to clean, and if properly seasoned, it’s also “non-stick” (minus the toxic cocktail of chemical compounds). Cooking with cast iron is a great way to experience many of the benefits that come with using non-stick cookware while also minimizing your exposure to harmful substances.

3. Heatproof Glass

Glass isn’t the most dynamic cooking material and it’s somewhat limited in the styles of cooking that it can accommodate, however, for oven baked dishes there aren’t many materials more safe and affordable than heatproof glass.

When choosing glassware for cooking, be sure to check that the glass is heatproof and of high quality construction. Pyrex has a great range of kitchen glassware for all sorts of different applications, including cooking.

4. Stonewear

Similar to ceramic, stonewear cooking equipment is a non-toxic alternative that usually involves a combination of crushed stone and a PTFE-free coating in order to achieve similar results to those of typical non-stick cookware.

Brands such as Stoneline, Swiss Diamond & Ozeri all provide good products in this range.

5. Stainless Steel

Tried and tested, stainless steel is one of the safest cookware materials in existence and is an excellent non-stick alternative for many forms of cooking. It’s worth noting that using frying pans and skillets that are made from stainless steel will sometimes result in ingredients sticking to the surface of the cookware when exposed to high temperatures. However, if you use ample amounts of a high quality cooking oil, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

Sewed Fabric Bags For My Makeup Tools

05.23.2017

0600

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So originally, I had created these bags for my Utensil To-Go Kit, and I realized that I could create smaller bags for my make-up tools. So I tested it out and this is what I came up with.

I had some old zippers from awhile back that I never used and these were a great fit. I first undid and removed the drawstring from the bag. Then I cut the original bag in half and sewed the sides of each to create two smaller bags. Because I cut straight thorough the original drawstring hem, I took the string and also cut that in half.

I measured each zipper and made appropriate cuts on the front of each bag for each zipper. Using small sewing pins, I attached each zipper to each bag and then I hand sewed the zippers to the bags. I inserted the smaller drawstrings through the new drawstring hems and tied them off.

The end product were bags that could be accessed through the zipper or through the top where the drawstring closed the bag. This was an interesting solution because when I place items in these type of bag designs, I never have items of all the same height. This bag allows me to access the taller items from the top opening and the smaller items from the front where the zipper is located. I’ve used this for make up tools, writing utensils and also my “Take Out Silverware Kit” that I keep in my purse.

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Borrowing Tools

 

04.13.2016

0900

As a child, I grew up watching my father fix the house little by little using his collection of tools. This childhood observation conditioned me to understand that owning tools was essential to get any job done around the house. However, any tool owner knows that whatever tool you buy, it comes with a warranty and there will always be a more powerful version of your tool out on the market somewhere at some point in time.

Owning tools can be quite costly and takes up a great deal of space. If you are a collector of tools and owning tools is essential to your day-to-day routine, then by all means, I think keeping them is the best decision. However, I am not a part of that population. I love to fix up my home and there’s a great satisfaction when I finish a job, but I don’t like to maintain tools nor do I like the amount of space they can take up.

The concept of borrowing, sharing and renting tools is not new, in fact, it’s quite old. There’s a level of trust and blind faith you must have in order to hand over your valuable tool to someone who may or may not know how to use it correctly. This idea of sharing tools creates a larger library of tools for any community in which the members understand who owns which tools and opens the communication lines between neighbors. By teaching each other how to use tools properly may in fact bond a community in a very unique way. Home owners, renters and potential home owners understand the frustration of maintaining a home so that bond in itself is unique. I personally have a numerous conversations with friends and family about how I prepare my home for each season of the year. Between the list of what tasks needs to be done to what tasks have yet to be done, neighbors young and old understand the need for certain tools and how to go about obtaining them.

Sometimes you only need to use a tool once or just use a specific tool once in a while so renting it may be a better idea. Some tools are not expensive and by owning all of the tools that you could possibly need, shuts you off from your neighbors. Granted, perhaps you’re the guy who everyone goes to in order to borrow tools, and in that scenario, you’ll be everyones’ ‘go-to person’ when it comes to tool inquiry. When you borrow/share/rent tools, it forces you to step outside and talk to one another.

We all know how to survive on our own, some of us are better at it than others, but part of me asks the question, how do we survive with each other? Borrowing and sharing tools is a small task to conquor “surving with one another”, but I think it opens a door of communitcation with one another.

There are programs designed to allow you to rent tools such as Loan-A-Tool from AutoZone or Cresco Equipment Rental.

Tools I borrow:

  • Dewalt Mechanics Tool Set
  • Dewalt Reciprocating Saw
  • Ridgid Cordless Drill/Driver & Drill Bits
  • Single Bevel Miter Saw
  • Sawhorses
  • Power Sander

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Essential Design Tools

03.28.2016

0900

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When I mention my essential design tools, I’m talking about tools I keep around in order to hack an object or product. Whether it be the way that the product is used, is placed in a location or creating more than one type of use for it. These alterations are never designed to compromise the integrity of the product itself unless I really want to step into that realm. The reason why I don’t want to alter the integrity of the products too much is because by living a zero waste life, I must be able to make multiple products be able to be used for multiple functions. This idea of versatility with every product I invest in, is always in the back of my mind with every purchase or design hack.

Supplies I keep in order to fix or hack day to day situations and circumstances around the house:

  1. Shoelaces and Rope
  2. S-Hooks
  3. Metal Binder Clips
  4. Velcro straps
  5. Carabiners
  6. Metal Rings

All of the tools I choose to keep are reusable and are made of durable material. I do prefer metal or stainless steel material because these tools can be manipulated into the shape of a loop. My favorite tools out of all of these are the carabiners and metal rings. Carabiners are strong, safe, secure and easy to use. Their closed loop design and locking mechanism was the design feature that caught my attention years ago. And due to the fact that these carabiners can be used repeatedly, the investment will pay off on its own. Metal rings can be used anywhere to create another secure loop for hooking any carabiner to it. These two tools coincide with one another when I use them.

I also favor rope as well. If you can find extra rope that’s braided together, then you’ve found gold in my opinion. The strength of braided rope combined with the knowledge of knots is essential. Also, rope has a soft flexibility to it where it can be use with clothing alterations, products and repairs. It’s flexible enough to create tension for a blanket fort, yet can be turned into a lasso to help save a drowning adult in a roaring rapid.

Metal binder clips and velcro straps are used as temporary grips for a group of anything that need to be bundled together. Although metal binder clips are limited in the width of the object they’re gripping, the metal material is still strong enough to retain it’s own shape.  Velcro straps can be used for larger bundles and can also be linked together to extend their capabilities around larger bundles.

S-Hooks are simply used when I need to hang something up without needing to drill a hole into another material. It is my go to tool when I have to deal with an object that needs support due to gravity more so than any other issue.

There are parameters to living a zero waste life, but one has to live within those parameters and still meet their own needs. Some might say that keeping supplies such as  the ones I’ve listed above is excessive, yet, I reuse these design tools repeatedly. If you notice that you constantly reuse certain tools or constantly go out and buy the same supplies, I’m betting that you’ve stumbled upon your own design tools. Invest in supplies that are versatile and are produced with durable materials, and they will consistently give back to you.

My Basic Toolbox

03.23.2016

0830

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I like household fixes, I genuinely do. There’s a sense of accomplishment that goes along with it and a better understanding of how your home functions. Plus, a lot of household repairs are quite simple and easy to get out of the way if you have the right tools and techniques. So I do keep a few tools on hand in my toolbox for this reason, but over the years, I also purged my tool collection. I tend to use a few tools frequently for fixes and I’ll borrow others. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to have an extensive collection in my toolbox due to the fact that I prefer to borrow tools on bigger jobs. Plus, owning more tools means I have to put more effort into maintaining all of my tools. Basically, now my small toolbox includes:

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Level 1:
Exacto blades with blade refills, electrical tape, Teflon (plumbers) tape, a combination lock, 2 old ID cards as putty scrapers, solar calculator

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Level 2:
Pair of trauma shears, long nose pliers, combination pliers, gardening shears, multi bit screwdriver, wind up flashlight, Eklind Ergo-Fold Hex Key Set, DAP Dry Time Indicator Spackling & Nail Hole Filler, biking gloves

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Level 3:
8-Inch pliers wrench, ratcheting adjustable wrench, claw hammer, bike tool kit, masking tape, extension cords, variety of screws and nails, (Denim bag: mini level, compact mirror, measuring tape, laser measure)

My denim bag is the bag I bring to site visits for my job. It’s basically tools I need to map out a floor plan or sketch out a floor plan easily. I’m a big advocator for borrowing tools, being that I think it helps a community in creating a stronger bond and it eases the stress of trying to own every tool out there for every single fix-up job. I do understand that not everyone will hand over their tools to a total stranger, but there are chains such as Cresco Equipment Rental, which is an equipment rental store, that allow you to rent most any equipment you need.

I also keep an eye on tools that may dry up such as the nail hole filler, electrical tape and masking tape. I keep an eye on them due to the fact that I have a tendency to not use an item for a long time and then the product dries up and becomes trash. It’s for that reason as to why I only own a few AAA batteries and only four battery operated items. I’m a believer in owning and buying ONLY WHAT YOU NEED in the quantity that you need it in. With the intention of buying only tools that you need, I also think that investing in a good set of quality tools is essential. Quality over quantity works on all levels. Over estimating your need for items will always lead to more waste and producing trash.

For most household fixes, you can either fix it yourself which means, you’ll go out to buy the part that needs to be fixed (which most likely will come in packaging that will be discarded) or you can hire a contractor to do the job and hope that they take all the trash with them. Hiring someone to do the job may cost more, but I guess that’s the toss up of how you want to produce trash. Unfortunately, either way, trash will be produced. One of the only hopes when it comes to those situations is that you hope your maintenance of the home stands the test of time.

The point of this blog post was not to tell anyone to copy what I own or to give a standard toolbox set, but evoke some thought of how we go about owning tools. My father was a big believer in fixing up our home on his own so as a child, I always saw a massive collection of tools and I had to re-organize my thought process of how I was going to approach tool ownership.

Minimize, minimize, minimize, it’s one of the simplest steps towards a zero waste life.