It’s Back to School time!
My son starts kindergarten in a few weeks and I am in the midst of collecting the last few items of the loooong list of school supplies requested. As I shopped for his crayons, glue sticks (btw, kindergarteners use ALOT of glue…I have to send in 20 sticks and 4 four bottles…yikes!) etc. It got me thinking about how many toxic substances he will be exposed to outside of my home now that he is in school most of the day.
Since he was born, I have slowly removed many toxic chemicals out of my home as I have discovered safer, green products I can make at home (saving me a ton of money) Now that he will be at school for a large portion of the day, I want to minimize his exposure to chemicals as much as I can. This can be a daunting task but can be done in small steps and over time so lets start with a few for now. Sound good? Ok, here are a few basics to start with:
1. Safer beverage containers: Send your child to school with filtered water and other beverages in a reusable bottle made from BPA-free plastic, BPA-free aluminum or stainless steel, such as Klean Kanteen. Target and Toys R Us sell adorable stainless steel containers that will keep their drink cold for up to 12 ours without ice! These tend to be more expensive starting at $9.99 but they will last forever and you can buy replacement straws as they wear out.
2. Safer Lunch boxes: Make sure your child’s lunch box is made from non-toxic materials without lead paint, PVC, BPA and antimicrobial chemicals. BPA-free plastic or unpainted stainless steel is best along with reusable plastic containers marked with a #1, 2, 4 or 5 on the bottom. Here are some examples of safe lunchboxes. Once again, these might cost more but if you go with a stainless steel lunch box it will last forever!
3. Safer hygiene: Encourage regular hand washing though out the day using hand soaps without triclosan, triclocarban or fragrance. If you send your child to school with a hand sanitizer choose one that contains ethanol (ethyl alcohol) without fragrance.
4. Safer school supplies: PVC, is found in many school supplies, including plastic lunchboxes, backpacks, and organizers and is linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and immune system damage. Avoid the number 3 recycling symbol, which signifies a PVC product and choose non-plastic products, organizers with wood or paper covers, and cardboard 3-ring binders. Skip scented markers and pens and opt for the plain old non-scented kind. If it has a fragrance and you cannot ingest it, most likely there is a toxic chemical behind the scent. Phthalates are commonly found in fragrance, and are linked to reproductive malformations in baby boys, reduced fertility, developmental disorders, asthma, and increased allergic reactions.
5. Safer schools: Encourage your school to adopt Green Cleaning Practices. Not sure how to begin? As outlined here the first step is by starting a local group to work on issues together. The larger the the group, the louder the voice. Join your PTA and bring up your concerns at meetings. A great place to start is by discussing the elimination of toxic products and finding greener solutions to keep our kids schools clean and a non-toxic environment.
These tips are just a starting point but I hope they give you a boost towards making a difference in your children’s health. Once again, educating yourself on the issues is the key to making the healthiest decisions for your children.