Loom Bands – A hazard to our health and the environment
Loom Bands are the latest craze!
Yes, my kids got sucked in and bought the kit and loads of little plastic bands as well.
I must admit I wasn’t on the ball that day and it dawned on me afterwards that these little plastic bands were indeed not so great for our health or the environment.
I know, I know. They are a fabulous non-screen activity for the kids that encourages hand eye co-ordination, creativity, problem solving and patience and gives mums some quiet time. All perfectly valid points.
Rainbow Loom Bands are the creation of mechanical engineer, Cheong Choon Ng who developed them in 2011 while helping his daughter make a bracelet by hand. Using a blunt crochet hook, some rubber bands and a plastic peg board, the loom kit was born and millions of them have been sold world wide. Inevitably, it has also spawned a whole wave of cheap knock offs as well.
Some of the cheaper knock off plastic loom band products can contain phthalates.
Phthalates are used as a plasticisers or solvent. The Chemical Maze handbook gives them a sad face 🙁 . The potential effects include “suspected endocrine, liver, kidney, reproductive, developmental, immuno and neurotoxicity; wildlife and environmental toxicity; linked to birth defects and damage to male reproductive systems.
Nicole Bijlsma in her book Healthy Home, Healthy Family says that ‘phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that have gained considerable attention because of their impact on children’s hormones. As a result of their link to cancer, some phthalates have been banned in Europe.”
As the kids are in close physical contact with the loom bands, wearing them around their wrists and may even suck or chew on them, you can see this starts to become a bit of a worry. One mum in our chat group mentioned she found one in her baby’s nappy!
Millions and millions of these little plastic bands are now on our earth. The plastic and silicon ones can’t be recycled and they do not break down.
There is a fear that animals and marine life will choke on these plastic bands, suffer intestinal blockages or become entangled. Loom bands have even been found in the droppings of meerkats in a New Zealand zoo!
What are the options?
Keep loom bands well away from pets and children under three.
If you already have loom bands, please cut them and then dispose of them properly in the rubbish bin when you are finished with them.
If you are looking to buy loom bands, look for ones that are made from 100% rubber. Rubber will naturally biodegrade, unlike the plastic and silicon ones. Toxic loom bands will have a very strong plasticy smell about them.
Swap the plastic loom bands for upcycled t-shirt yarn as seen in this tutorial by Green Issues by Agy.
Make old-fashioned friendship bracelets with cotton embroidery thread.
Embrace french knitting! Make your own French Knitter and get busy with wool to make your creations. Aleta at Hinterland Mama has a step by step tutorial for you. (pictured above)
If you want to avoid buying the plastic loom itself, here is a great tutorial to make your own loom using wood and nails!
Loom bands can be a hazard to our health and the environment. I think it pays to take a little care and be cautious – our children are so precious (and so is our earth).
What do you think? Have you got any great alternatives? Link us up!