Non-Toxic Back to School Tips
1. Reduce your use of disinfectants in the home
A return to school means a return to the use of harsh disinfectants in the classroom, but you can at least reduce your child’s exposure at home. The overuse of disinfectant chemicals has been linked to a range of health impacts, from eye, skin, and respiratory irritation to hormone disruption, immune system impacts, and potential reduced fertility.
Check out WVE’s Room-by-Room Chart for reducing disinfectants in the home.
2. Send your child to school with safer hand sanitizers
Triclosan and ammonium quaternary compounds (quats) are found in many of the anti-bacterial soaps that abound in classrooms and school restrooms. Triclocan is persistent in the environment, and is linked to hormone disruption and potential increased risk of breast cancer. Quats are a known inducer of occupational asthma and are linked to reduced fertility and birth defects. Although hand sanitizers with alcohol are not toxic, some schools don’t allow them.
Look for hand sanitizers or hand wipes from CleanWell, which contain thyme oil instead of harsh anti-bacterials.
3. Look for PVC-free school supplies
PVC, known as the poison plastic, is found in many school supplies, including plastic lunchboxes, backpacks, and organizers. PVC is linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and immune system damage.
- Avoid the number 3 recycling symbol, which signifies a PVC product
- Choose non-plastic products, such as cloth or metal lunch bags, organizers with wood or paper covers, and cardboard 3-ring binders.
4. Provide your child with BPA-free, re-usable water bottles
BPA is one of the most pervasive chemicals on the market, and is linked to breast and prostate cancer, genital malformations, and early puberty.
- Look for plastic bottles branded BPA-free
- Avoid plastic bottles all together with stainless steel bottles
5. Skip scented markers and pens
Fragrance chemicals can be very toxic. For example, phthalates are commonly found in fragrance, and are linked to reproductive malformations in baby boys, reduced fertility, developmental disorders, asthma, and increased allergic reactions.
- Look for recycled ballpoint pens and unscented markers
- Try crayons made with soy or beeswax