As the school year starts up again, families across the country are clamoring to gather up all the materials needed to ensure their kiddos get the best possible educational experience. And while learning in school is associated with intellectual growth and wellbeing, health experts warn that parents should be aware of the safety hazards associated with many mainstream school supplies.
In this day and age where plastic reigns king, it’s important to remember that even seemingly harmless products such as lunch boxes, water bottles and backpacks may very well be made with materials that pose health hazards to our kids.
Chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive issues such as BPA, (which is used in plastic to make them stronger) have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration from certain from certain items such as sippy-cups and baby bottles but are still prominent in water bottles and lunch boxes.
Likewise, there are other compounds found in plastic such as PVC, which are equally detrimental to our health. A recent article in The Washington Post explains,
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, also known as vinyl, contains chemical additives including phthalates that research has linked to asthma, learning disabilities, diabetes and other chronic health problems. Congress banned phthalates in children’s toys, yet they are widespread in school supplies such as backpacks and three-ring binders.”
Yikes! So what’s a concerned parent to do? Well, for starters look for toxic free products whenever possible. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has some great tips for finding healthy back-to-school supplies.
It might take a little more effort than popping into Target but we’ve done some of the research for you to make it that much easier.
Backpacks for example, should be made out of natural fibers rather than the popular stiff shiny plastic brands made with vinyl. Organic Life recommends these two brands for toxic-free backpacks.
Hemp backpacks, rawganique.com, $29 to $85
Ecogear Backpacks and Rollers, ecogear-products.com and various retailers, $13.50 to $37.50
The Ultimate Green Store is another online resource for safe toxic-free back-to-school supplies. Whether you are looking for stainless steel lunch boxes and water bottles, plastic-free binders or even art supplies such as these soybean blend biodegradable crayons, this is a reliable resource for safe products.
A sharp mind begins with a healthy body. Consider giving your little loves a head start this year by switching out the toxic products with more wholesome ones.
Image via Flickr
Worried about PVC and BPA? A toxic-free back-to-school shopping guide via The Washington Post
Back-to-School-Guide via EWG.org
Your A+ Guide to Green School Supplies via Organic Life