Crafting Vs. Vinyl (Round 3)

Shower Curtain In the not too distant past I called for an outright ban on using vinyl in any and all craft projects in Crafting Vs. Vinyl (Round 1). I then followed that up with Crafting Vs. Vinyl (Round 2) and explored some possible alternatives to the toxic plastic, but had no such luck on finding a substitute to clear vinyl, a material that is used in many crafting projects.

Gidget recently inquired about PEVA as a possible clear plastic alternative. I jumped at the chance to look into this plastic, which I had not heard of, to see about its potential for crafting and how it rates in relation to PVC.

Gidget pointed out that IKEA was selling clear plastic shower curtains and that they were made out of PEVA, not PVC. I happened to be at an IKEA the other day and was able to look over said shower curtain. Indeed, it said 100% PEVA. It was clear and light and flexible. The biggest difference that I noticed right away was its lack of smell! It was also thinner and a bit more cloudy (but still clear) than PVC, but still flexible and pliable enough to be run through with a needle and thread.

So what is PEVA? According to the Healthy Building Network, PEVA is polyethylene vinyl acetate and is a plastic and a vinyl. In fact there are several types of vinyl – ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and polyvinyl butyral (PVB) on top of both PEVA and PVC.

We already know that PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride and the Healthy Building Network further breaks down why PVC is so toxic. The C stands for chloride or chlorine and that is what is responsible for the harmful dioxins that PVC emits.

So can we then assume that since there is no C in PEVA that it is non-toxic? The Healthy Building Network again:

Absence of chlorine alone does not make these other vinyls the final answer in the search for green polymers. There are still plenty of toxic challenges and untested chemicals in the life cycle of any petrochemical product. As is the case with most other polymers competing with PVC, however, the weight of available evidence indicates that the absence of chlorine in the formula will generally render the lifecycle environmental health impacts of PVB and the other vinyls less harmful than PVC and initial study is bearing this out.

And the Center for Health, Environmental and Justice points to a study on EVA, and other PVC alternatives (PDF), that states that “…EVA does not require phthalate additives to achieve flexibility…” Phthalates, as you’ll recall are the other culprits in PVC that leads to its toxicity. EVA has also been touted as an alternative to PVC for use in children’s toys including teething rings and PEVA has also found its way into sandwich wraps.

Even with the above information I’m still cautious but excited. Minus dioxins and phthalates, PEVA seems to be a better alternative to PVC. So what do you think? Can PEVA be the right material for us crafters?

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Written by Kelly Rand

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting.

Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.


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  1. Thanks for addressing my question! I’m glad to hear your research has proved it to be at least a little better than PVC. I too was bummed that it’s not completely clear, but it worked fine for me. I made a fabric photo album and used the PEVA as the photo slots.

  2. I was just going to make some shadow boxes and thinking about getting a vinyl cutter. Can you tell me an alternative to using vinyl on the shadow boxes for phrases? How much of a concern would it be for a shadow box of some phrase that is out just for about 1 month in the year if that?

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