Sunday, August 13, 2017

2017 Non-Toxic Munchkin Back To School Guide for Kids of All Ages

Back to School is upon us all and kids and parents everywhere are looking to buy this year’s supplies that will fit our kid’s personalities, last (at least!) the entire year and that won’t expose them to nasty toxic chemicals.   

The good news is that every year there are more safe, stylish and non-toxic supplies available.  The bad news? The yearly massive amounts of toxic vinyl and fruity smelling supplies are also readily available and they mostly showcase your child’s favorite characters.  As with everything the key is to know what to look for and what to avoid - which is where we come in.  

Voila our 2017 Non-Toxic Munchkin Back To School Guide for kids of all ages.  


Here's a hint:   as you look around major retail chains you probably want to avoid the usual suspects of shiny cartoon, super heroes and princess characters on everything from backpacks to lunch boxes to pens and notebooks. The smell (stench really) of plastic lingering in the back to school aisle is another clue of things to avoid.

 But first: a short tutorial of what to avoid (or scroll down to go straight to our recommendation for children of all ages) - print it out and take with you when shopping!

• AVOID: 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.

• AVOID: 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.

• AVOID: fruity smelling art supplies
• Found in: crayons, erasers, pencils and other art supplies are all available in fruit scents as well as patches especially marketed towards little girls
• 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. Avoid anything that smells artificially

• AVOID: Antibacterial supplies mostly labelled as 'microban'
• Found in: Folders, binders, backpacks, antibacterial gels
• 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. * If your class list requires you bring antibacterial gels choose natural versions like those from Babyganics.

Non-Toxic Munchkin Approved!
Our 2017 school supply recommendations - for all ages 

 Lunch and Snack time

I like the compartments at a much more affordable price than the Planet Box- however the cover is plastic.  I would recommend this, like I recommend other stainless steel snack containers with plastic lids:  not for hot food and not to be placed in microwave or dishwashing machine (since heat is what will cause any potential chemicals - like those that replace BPA- to leach into food) 

FLUF ABC Lunch Bag, 11-Inch L by 8-Inch W by 4-1/2-Inch D Fluf has great designs for young kids and older kids - including ABC's, Sharks, cacti and camouflage, among others

Stainless steel is ideal, but for those kids that loose everything these bamboo utensils are pretty Earth friendly and won’t expose your kids to any nasties.

For the Journey to School

STATE Girls' Mini Kane, Ice Cream  State has great designs for boys and girls of all ages.

Fjallraven Kanken Mini Daypack, Warm Yellow Minimalistic and very European these come in both smaller  (for little kids) and larger adult sizes.

 (PVC-, pthalate-, and BPA-Free)  My 2nd grader  will be using his Dino print from Kindergarten

because it is (unbelievably!) still in great condition!  I purchased the larger size backpack  but this toddler size is perfect for preschoolers.  Their designs that are the perfect combo of sweet and urban. 

Jansport Superbreak Backpack (blue streak)

LEGO Brick Eco Backpack, Blue, One Size The LEGO Eco backpacks are perfect for LEGO obsessed boys and girls.  Every bag is made from recycled plastic water bottles, and you’ll find amazing designs from your fav Lego characters—NINJAGO and NEXO Knights; as well as brick-patterned fabric styles (in red, pink and blue)


A little pricey (this is the adult size, but would work for high schoolers or could be a great gift for a college freshman)  I literally spotted this model on an airplane and searched it out.   I find it masculine and stylish so had to include!

For the classroom

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