Toxic chemicals can show up in unexpected places and products we do not think to be cautious about. In this post, I am going to tell why we need to avoid PVC (vinyl) and how to look for PVC-free backpacks for adults.
Recently, I published an article about the fact that our kids’ backpacks may be laden with toxic chemicals including phthalates and lead. The fact that kids’ backpacks may be toxic had received attention after the Center for Health, Environment and Justice published their survey of school supplies. While phthalates and lead may be regulated in toys and paint, backpacks somehow are not considered important enough to be non-toxic.
In my “Back to School Supplies – Toxic Backpacks” article I talked about PVC (polyvinyl chloride, aka vinyl) as the main source of toxicity in backpacks. The same applies to adult backpacks. That’s why it is the best to look for PVC-free backpacks.
PVC (sometimes simply called vinyl (recycle code #3)) is the most toxic plastic. Why? In its natural state, it is not suitable for making consumer products. Thus, toxic chemicals are added to it during its manufacture to impart qualities it does not have. For instance, phthalates are added to vinyl to make it flexible. Heavy metals are added to make it more durable. The problem is that these additives are not permanently bound to the plastic, and are gradually released into the atmosphere. Have you noticed how old plastic becomes brittle and crumbles? That’s because the additives escaped into the environment. In our case, they escape and end up absorbed by the skin, ingested, and inhaled.
I am learning that there are new technologies of making vinyl where phthalates are added. That way that they are permanently bound to the vinyl plastic. And this is how manufacturers, I think, can claim that their vinyl products are phthalate-free. Either that or they add some other, less notorious plasticizer to it. I am not quite sure because they have not been willing to tell me. Please leave a comment if you know something about that.
Either way, I highly recommend avoiding vinyl despite the fact that “non-toxic” versions of vinyl exists. I encourage you to buy PVC-free backpacks. Why? Because the manufacture of vinyl is highly toxic for the environment. Among other things, during its manufacture, extremely toxic dioxins are released into the environment – affecting water, soil, air, fish, and animals. For more information on dioxins, go to the World Health Organization article. Moreover, the disposal of it is toxic and pollutes our planet in high strides. Furthermore, why demand (and yes, by buying a product, we demand it) the production of such toxic material while PVC-free backpacks do exists.
One of the subscribers to my blog asked for suggestions on non-toxic backpacks for adults. He also asked me what questions to ask to make sure that a backpack is non-toxic. As I have mentioned, make sure that the backpack you are buying is PVC-free. Sometimes when a product description states that it is made of something other than vinyl, vinyl may still be used in some areas of a backpack. So it is always better to ask. If there is PVC, normally that would mean that the backpack is free of its toxic additives such as phthalates or lead. However, phthalates and lead (other heavy metals) may still be used in the backpack coating, glue, or paint. Thus, you should be asking a manufacturer whether there are PVC, phthalates, lead, and other heavy metals in the backpack in which you may be interested.
Here are my top recommendations for PVC-free backpacks for adults in different price points.
Ecogear Rhino II Laptop Backpack – PVC-free Backpacks
This is your everyday inexpensive PVC-free backpack. It is made of ballistic nylon, originally developed for military. As you can guess, the backpack is durable and ready to endure rough handling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_nylon). When ballistic nylon is burned, it does not create any toxic fumes as PVC does. Instead it produces H2O and CO2. This PVC-free backpack is also free of PVC, chlorine, dioxin, phthalates, and heavy metals.
Ecogear Mohave Tui II Backpacks – PVC-free Backpacks
This PVC-free backpack is made of recycled PET plastic water bottles. PET is polyethylene terephthalate, or recycle code #1. Yes, it is plastic but PET is less toxic than vinyl and I love the fact that it is recycled. There is a lot of plastic floating around on our planet (sometime quite literally) so it is great that somebody decided to make things out of it like these PVC-free backpacks. They are cheap and free from PVC, BPA, lead, and phthalates.
Bluelounge Backpack – PVC-free Backpacks
These PVC-free backpacks are also made of recycled PET plastic bottles and free from PVC, BPA, lead, and phthalates. If you are in the mood for something more fancy and stylish, check them out. They are more expensive but look great. Take a look at these PVC-free backpacks at http://www.bluelounge.com/products/bags/backpack/
Benson Backpack by Stone & Cloth – PVC-free Backpacks
Another alternative material to PVC is cotton of course. These PVC-free backpacks are made of tough twill-weave cotton. If you love natural fabrics, these PVC-free backpacks are for you. They are sold at http://www.stonecloth.com/shop.html.
So as you can see there is no reason to stick to a highly toxic vinyl as there are plenty better of alternatives to it. PVC-free backpacks can be made of nylon, recycled PET plastic bottles, and cotton.
For more information about kids backpacks, visit my other post here.
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