3 Tips for Healthier School Supplies

children Aug 17, 2016

As sad as it is to see another gorgeous summer come to an end, the anticipation of a new school year is an exciting time for the family to enjoy. Each year, as I browse through the endless product choices available for back-to-school shopping, I'm reminded that because of certain chemical ingredients, not all of these choices are safe for the youngest members of our families. However, the three tips below will build a framework for a healthier school year.

1. Choose stainless steel over plastic. When it comes to lunch carriers and water bottles, stainless steel varieties are a healthy choice. They are safer than their plastic counterparts, as chemicals like phthalates and BPA can leach from plastics into the food and beverages they carry (also, many "BPA-free" products contain replacement chemicals that can be just as threatening). While there are many great options available, my children love the compartments of the stainless steel lunch boxes by PlanetBox. Stainless steel products are durable (mine have lasted years), and they are better for the environment than plastic varieties.

2. Detox your crayon supply. The Environmental Working Group recently tested popular crayon products, and found asbestos in four out of twenty-eight boxes of crayons that were tested. According to the EWG, “contaminated crayons could release microscopic asbestos fibers as children use them,” which is worrisome, since OSHA has stated that “there is no ‘safe’ level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber.” Since crayons are such a beloved art tool for children (also one that children often put in their mouths), it is worthwhile to consider their asbestos exposure through crayons. For healthier alternatives, look for products that tested negative for asbestos in the EWG study, such as crayons made by Crayola.

3. Avoid hand sanitizers. Some schools request that children bring hand sanitizers to school, but if you can avoid it, it is best to skip using antibacterial products. In January of 2015, the FDA stated that there is no evidence that antibacterial soap prevents illness any better than regular soap and water, and Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at the FDA, explained that “new data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits.”

Additional products that can be detoxed are children's school supplies: backpacks, binders, and paints. Avoid vinyl when possible. Share your favorite tips and products for healthier school supplies in the comments section below!

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