colorful dinnerware
Health & Wellness

How a New Set of Dishes Caused My Anxiety to Spiral

I have mild anxiety.

I am pretty sure I’ve had it my whole life.

And it has reared its ugly head many many times throughout the past several years. Especially while trying to conceive, throughout my entire pregnancy, and since becoming a Mom.

Since this is something I’ve always struggled with, I’ve become much better at identifying and naming it when it’s happening.

Sometimes I understand and can trace it back to a particular event that might have triggered it. Other times, it comes on so suddenly and unexpectedly, that I feel like a deer caught in the headlights.

Such an event happened this past Sunday, after a family trek to Janesville for a little peruse around the Goodwill. Why on Earth would we drive to Janesville to shop at Goodwill you ask? Because we were bored, for one. And also because Janesville is part of the “Amazing Goodwill” network. Which just so happens to be wayyyy better than the ones in Dane County.

This particular trip to Janesville didn’t yield any “amazing” deals, like some visits in the past have. However, I did wind up piecing together a new set of dishes that I really liked.

I wasn’t planning to purchase new dishes. In fact, we just bought a new set last summer when our kitchen remodel was complete. I bought a fun set of Corelle dinnerware at that time. Because I thought it would be wise to get some “unbreakable” dishes with a small child in the house.

We learned the hard way (or really my husband did) when my son chucked one of our nice bowls across the kitchen after finishing his oatmeal one morning. As you might imagine, the bowl shattered on the kitchen floor. And that was the last time we served him anything on “the good china”.

We are hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I thought it would be fun to have some new (to us) dishes to set the table. So, when I saw a variety of brightly colored stoneware on the shelves at Goodwill, ranging in price from $.50-$2.99 a piece, I decided to build a new set for the occasion.

I was able to snag 8 coordinating dinner and salad plates. But they only had two bowls that worked with the set on the shelves there. I bought those two, figuring I could look for six more on future trips to Goodwill. And also planned to look online to see if there were any available elsewhere.

After putting the kiddo to bed that night, I took to my phone to search the inter-webs for “Royal Norfolk Colored Dinnerware”.

Royal Norfolk sounds fancy, however, a quick Google search told me you could find this brand at the Dollar Tree.

A few Ebay links came up as well, with people selling sets of 4 cups for $24.99. Only one posting was for the bowls I had bought. A single bowl available for $3.99 o.b.o. However, shipping was $13.99. No thanks.

What I didn’t expect to see in my search results, however, were several articles related to lead in dinnerware.

In searching to complete my new set of dishes, the following headlines popped up. “Getting the Lead Out“, by the Chicago Tribune. And “13 Investigates: Lead in Your Dishes“, posted by a TV station in Indianapolis.

The one that jumped out at me the most though was: “Mystery Ingredient in Chinese Product Could Hurt You” on the Pocono Record. (Mind you, I have no idea what that is.)

And so it began.

The panic started to set in.

What had I done?

If you also have anxiety, you know Google can be your WORST ENEMY. It can quickly send you down a rabbit hole.

Which it did.

I clicked on every single one of those links and read each article in detail.

Then I conducted a new search: “Lead in Ceramic Dishes”.

A whole slew of related articles came up. With similarly alarming headlines.

Beware of Lead in Ceramic Kitchenware” on Or “Can Your Ceramic Cookware Give You Lead Poisoning” from NPR.


What. The. Fuck.

I could feel myself spiraling.

I was worried I’d made a terrible mistake buying dishes from Goodwill. Something people probably do on a daily basis. And don’t have a panic attack about it.

I tried to put my phone down and go to bed. But I couldn’t stop reading.

And stewing.

My fun new dishes, which I had just put in the dishwasher on the “Sanitize” cycle, could potentially give us all LEAD POISONING.

Then, I started to wonder if our current dishes also contained lead. The ones we’ve been eating off of for the past year and a half.

So, I Googled that too. And sure enough, Corelle uses lead-based paint in their ceramics as well. Though their web site states that their products do not exceed the “allowable” levels.

Why is any amount of lead allowable in tableware at all?

In any sense, this information was rather unsettling.

And even a few days later, the dishes are still sitting in the dishwasher. Because I’m not sure if I even want to use them now.

Is it really worth the risk?

Or am I over-reacting?

I imagine I’ve been eating off of dishes that have “leached” lead into my body my entire life.

Here is the thing though. Having a kid is a game-changer. I’ve tried to limit my child’s exposure to chemicals since pre-conception, when I swore off all beauty and personal care products with sulfates, parabens and phthalates. Which was the result of another instance in which I randomly happened upon some information that sent me spiraling.

I don’t want to do anything that may cause him harm.

Though our “new” dishes didn’t make it onto the FDA’s list of suspect dinnerware, I am still faced with a choice now that I am armed with this new knowledge of leachable lead in dishes.

1. Keep the dishes and pray they don’t kill us all.

2. Purchase a lead testing kit from Menard’s and swab those fuckers to see if they contain lead. And then decide what to do from there.

3. Try to sell them on Ebay and wish the buyer the best.

I already removed the tags and washed them all, so returning them to Goodwill is no longer an option.

What would you do if you were me?

Call me crazy, but I never knew this was something I needed to worry about. Yet, worried I now am.

How about you? Were you aware of the prevalence of lead in dishes?

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