It’s back-to-school time again! Time to shop for those school supplies and of course you want them to be safe from ickies like PVC. Kids are going to be using school supplies and lunch boxes on a daily basis and kids are more greatly affected by toxins than adults. So we want to make sure we are sending them off with items that are safe.
So, what should you all avoid this back-to-school season?
1. PVC – polyvinyl chloride. PVC causes cancer, and is notorious for containing lead which can cause irreversible brain damage with too much exposure.
How to avoid PVC, the poison plastic. The CHEJ gives these quick tips:
- PVC products are often labeled with the words “vinyl” on the packaging, such as vinyl 3-ring binders
- PVC packaging can be identified by looking for the number “3” inside, or the letters “V” or “PVC” underneath, the universal recycling symbol, indicating the product is made out of PVC. Just remember – bad news comes in #3’s, don’t buy PVC
- Some products are not properly labeled, making it tough to determine whether they contain PVC. If you’re uncertain, e-mail or call the 1-800 number of the manufacturer or retailer and ask what type of plastic their product is made of. You have a right to know.
While sadly, some safer school supplies are harder to find, if you keep looking, you should still be able to find PVC free supplies. Here is a pocket guide to help you along and a full list of PVC-free school supplies. Though, for many of these supplies on the full list, you will have to do your shopping online and those sites are noted on CHEJ’s guide, which is certainly more appealing to me than battling the back-to-school crowds in stores. Luckily, I have 1 more year before I need to worry about that.
- Fleurville backpacks I love the designs!
- Crocodile Creek lunch box I am not kidding when I saw these are stinkin’ cute and I want one for myself!
- Kids Konserve Waste Free Lunch System for something more sophisticated. Comes complete with 2 stainless steel food containers, a napkin, sandwich wrap, stainless steel water bottle and a nice recycled cotton sack to carry it all in. There is also a nice thermos for sending soups or other warm items and an ice pack for helping keep things cool.
- Affordable, iPlay raincoats
Or consult CHEJ’s well researched list with websites of manufacturers and how to buy.
2. BPA – bisphenol A. Common in Polycarbonate (PC) #7 plastic. A hormone disruptor that interferes with the developing breast and prostate in the womb and out, as well as affecting brain development and behavior. Has also in recent studies been linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
3. Polystyrene #6 plastic. Styrene can cause nerve system damage and is listed as a probable human carcinogen (causes cancer). Commonly found in Styrofoam containers, as well as other food containers, cups, cutlery, CD’s, packing peanuts, etc.
4. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Kids and alcohol just don’t mix, so opt for something safer such as CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.
5. Triclosan and items labeled with “Microban Technology.” Triclosan is the common ingredient in many antibacterial products, including most liquid hand soaps, and is toxic. Really anything labeled antimicrobial, antibacterial, keeps food fresh longer, and other such claims could contain Triclosan. Avoid it. SafeMama has a good article on Microban and I agree with their stance that it seems unnecessary and because there is not sufficient evidence one way or another, it’s best to steer clear if possible. I make my own foaming hand soap and love it!
Does your school make the environmental health grade? Use the CHEJ’s environmental checklist to find out.
That should you do if your school list has items on it that you feel strongly against (i.e. alchohol based hand sanitizer like Purell)? Tiffany at Nature Mom’s Blog did a write up last year with a letter she sent to her son’s teacher explaining some of the deviations she provided from the required list.
Hope these tips make your back to school year a little healthier! Happy shopping!