One of the only hand-me-downs I have ever turned down was a fireman rain coat. It was so cute and in quite good condition, but when I looked at the label, it said: 100% vinyl. And, for me, that was a deal breaker. Vinyl pops up everywhere but is especially common in waterproof products, such as rain gear, crib mattresses and waterproof mattress covers, changing pads, and children's bibs
What's so bad about PVC/ vinyl?
In a nutshell, PVC plastic is uniquely toxic among plastics because of its highly toxic ingredients which readily migrate into the environment during its production, its use, and its disposal. This means, for example, that the phthalates (which are endocrine disruptors) added to PVC to make it softer and more malleable so that it can be used to make a rain jacket can then readily be inhaled or ingested (through hand-to-mouth contact) by your child. Check your child's rain gear. If it's made of PVC, I would seriously consider replacing it, particularly for younger children.
My children love to play in the rain, and I love for them to be outside whenever possible. Sadly, most of the thrift store offerings for rain coats are also vinyl or PVC and I've never found a pair of rain boots second-hand that I could verify were PVC-free. So several years ago I broke down and invested in new PVC-free rain gear for my children. I asked my friends and family about their experiences because I wanted to buy high-quality gear that would last through several children. I am happy to report that the rain coat and rain boots I originally bought for my first child are now being worn by my third.
Shopping for PVC-free Rain Gear
Our rain gear is from Lands End, and I've also heard good things about L.L. Bean rain gear. My sister, who lives in Portland, says she finds a large selection rain boots and other rain gear all the time in the thrift stores there, so if you live in an especially rainy climate, check your thrift stores first. Just make sure you can verify that the gear is PVC-free: jackets will have a label, but for boots you will need to be familiar with the PVC-free brands because they won't be labeled.
Here are some manufacturers that make PVC-free rain gear for children:
- Lands End
- L.L. Bean
- iPlay: rain coats, rain pants, and rubber rain boots
- Western Chief: some rain coats and rubber rain boots (check the product page and label) - I sometimes see good deals on Western Chief rain coat/ rain boot combos at Costco
- Stonz: rubber rain boots and nylon infant booties
- I've also had success searching for "nylon rain coats" and "rubber rain boots" on Amazon. Most non-PVC raincoats are nylon and the highest quality rain boots are rubber. Be sure and check the product description to make sure no PVC/ vinyl is used in the rain gear.
Avoiding PVCPVC can be difficult to avoid because it's is one of the most widely used plastics and it turns up everywhere. The good news is that more and more alternatives to vinyl products are becoming available. Check out these other posts that describe and review PVC-free:
- yoga mats
- crib mattresses
- waterproof mattress pads
- changing pads
- backpacks and other school supplies
- arts and crafts materials
- baby and toddler bibs
- garden hoses
Be sure to avoid vinyl when shopping for Halloween costumes as well. Be suspicious of any plastic that is shiny, squishy, molded, or smells strongly.
What is your favorite PVC-free rain gear?
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