Sunday, August 16, 2015

2015 Non-Toxic Back To School Guide for All Ages!

It is officially that time of the year again- as we prepare to say goodbye to the long hot summer days, parents and children everywhere are getting ready for the new school year. 

Personally, I remember the excitement I felt going back-to-school shopping as a child. Choosing my new backpack, lunchbox and supplies was always the highlight of the end of the summer; for many kids its a clear expression of who they are or want to be during the new school year.  Needless to say, their input is essential, especially as they grow older. 

Here's the thing: as parents we want our children to choose the coolest character or designs that will make them feel confidant during the new school year, however the reality is that most of these supplies have some bad chemicals which could potentially affect our children's health... look around this year at major retail chains and you will notice the usual suspects of shiny cartoon, super heroes and princess characters on everything from backpacks to lunchboxes to pens and notebooks. You will also probably notice the smell of plastic lingering in the back to school aisle.  

 The good news? Each year there are more and more non-toxic options available in great designs for all tastes and ages!

But first: a short tutorial of what to avoid  (scroll down to go straight to our recommendation for children of all ages) 

  1.  Description: shiny and smelly plastic: you know what i am talking about - the most common, and usually least expensive supplies, are made of shiny smelly plastic. 
  • Found in: lunchboxes, backpacks, binders, folders, pencil cases
  • The problem? This shiny plastic is made of pvc ( vinyl). PVC is considered to be one of the most toxic plastics for children and the environment since it constantly releases a cocktail of chemicals including phthalates ( endocrine disrupting chemical linked to birth defects, decreased sperm count and damaged sperm, increased risk of developing behavioral problems, premature birth and asthma) dioxins ( carcinogens), PCBs ( linked Long-term exposure to PCBs is associated with a panoply of ills, including cancer, endocrine disorders, and reproductive troubles. The compounds have also been linked to cognitive and behavioral problems in children) and even lead ( a proven potent neurotoxin ), among other harmful chemicals 
  • Alternative: try to avoid plastic when possible. Fabric, canvas, stainless steel, recycled cardboard are all great alternatives. If your child's school list specifies plastic folder/ binder look for those specifically labelled ' pvc free' . Polypropylene ( #5 in the recycling triangle) ones from brands like Avery are a good option.
2. Description: hard pastic
  • Found in: plastic snack baggies, water bottles, food containers and lunchboxes
  • The problem? While many companies have phased out BPA from their products even BPA free products can contain chemicals very similar to BPA which could be accumulating inside your child's body and mimicking their hormones. This class of chemicals are known to be linked to breast cancer, obesity, among other ailments. Additionally, placing hot food in plastic containers, or heating foods in plastic containers makes the chemicals in the plastics leech into the food- never heat food in plastic containers! 
  • Alternative: after spending time planning out your child's healthy lunch and snacks for the week the last thing you want to be doing is exposing them to these chemicals. Choose reusable fabric snack bags or stainless steel as an alternative to plastic- especially for all things that come into contact with food.
Description:  fruity smelling art supplies
  • Found in: crayons, erasers, pencils and other art supplies are all available in fruit scents
  • The problem? Although kids tend to love them, these items probably contain phthalates (chemicals that allow the fragrance to 'stick' to the product).  Phthalates have been linked to birth defects, decreased sperm count and damaged sperm, increased risk of developing behavioral problems, premature birth and asthma
  • Alternative: Water based markers are your safest bet
  4. Description:  Very cheap crayons 
  • Found in: Many large retailers and dollar shops sell extremely inexpensive crayons- Made in China.  The ones tested and found to have asbestos were marketed with colorful characters such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and Mickey Mouse
  • The problem? Environmental Working Group Action Fund, recently found certain crayons  containing asbestos fibers.  Asbestos is a known carcinogen.   Experts say there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure. Even short exposures—just a few days—can cause serious lung problems. According to the EWG "There are no rules banning asbestos contamination in many consumer products (including) toys." Even though the asbestos fibers were mixed with the crayon's wax, making it harder for it to escape and your children breath it is, if you children put things in their mouth like mine do- its an unacceptable risk.
  • Alternative: Buy reputable name brands or look for made in usa or europe.  An even healthier option are crayons made of   beeswax and soy oil
5. Description:  Antibacterial supplies mostly labelled as 'microban'
  • Found in: folders, binders, backpacks
  • The problem? microban is a mix of chemicals meant to protect the product (not the user! from bacteria, and mold and that may contain Triclosan.  We don't really know if it contains Triclosan, since the company that produces Microban does not disclose its ingredients but this is a common antimicrobial chemical linked to skin irritation, allergy susceptibility, growth of drug-resistant bacteria or “superbugs.” dioxin contamination and even hormone disruption
  • Alternative:  Avoid "antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” or "microban" labels - even in items labelled as non-toxic.  
Non-Toxic Munchkin Approved! Our 2015 school supply recommendations - by school age

I. Preschool
Take advantage because you can still choose these items to your liking! 

Lunch/ snacktime


  • Glob All Natural Paint Kits paints made from fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices. 
  • Clementine Art: From crayons to paints, this natural and non-toxic brand is sure to have all the art supplies your child needs for school.
  • eco-kids USA: Get naturally creative with these non-toxic and natural art supplies
  • Earth Grown Crayons: made from natural soy wax with non-toxic mineral and organic pigments.
II. Elementary school
Make sure to include your elementary school, probably opinionated, child in picking out their supplies! Suddenly the 'right' superhero or princess or other character can make or break the back to school experience!

PlanetBox allows kids to personalize their lunchbox with magnets

SoYoung Backpacks: My Kindergartener's choice

  • Glob All Natural Paint Kits paints made from fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices. 
  • Eco-kids USA:  allow your kids to get naturally creative with these non-toxic and natural art supplies.  Dioramas, craft projects, and homework won’t be a toxic, smelly mess with this non-toxic paste made from potato starch and almond
  • Earth Grown Crayons that are made from natural soy wax with non-toxic mineral and organic pigments.
III. Older kids 

School Supplies



  1. Very important to choose the backpack well for the return to school and thus prevent back problems

  2. Nice stuff dear. Thanks for sharing it. Anyone here looking for Leading Kids wear manufacturer and exporter in Delhi. I suggest you to visit Saivana Exports, India most trusted company.