Saturday, August 13, 2016

Non-Toxic and Cool 2016 Back to School Guide!

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. 

Back to school shopping might have already started at your house.... or if you are like me - this weekend and next week will be a busy one getting ready for the start of the new school year!

Because all kids want school supplies that fit their personalities and we parents want them to have safe products that wont expose them to nasty toxic chemicals, here is your 2016 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 lunchboxes to pens and notebooks. The smell (stench really) of plastic lingering in the back to school aisle is another clue of things to avoid. The good news? Each year there are more and more non-toxic options become available in great designs for all tastes and ages!

 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!

  •  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. 

  •  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 

  • Description: 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 2015 school supply recommendations - for all ages 

 Food Prep




  •  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 

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