As a mom and someone concerned about toxic chemicals that are becoming more and more prevalent in our environment, I always relish reading the Environmental Working Group's latest research reports--They help make me a more informed, proactive consumer. They just released their Back-to-School guide.
Here are my favorites from their eco-tips:
Hand washing. Choose sanitizers with ethanol (ethyl alcohol) but no fragrance, and liquid hand soaps without triclosan, triclocarban or fragrance.
In case you aren't aware: Triclosan is one of the most detected chemicals in U.S. waterways; most of it goes down the drain in households. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control updated their National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals and noted that triclosan levels in people increased by over 41% between just the years 2004 and 2006. Also last week, a scientific paper showed that triclosan from sewage sludge can be taken up by conventionally grown soybean plants and translocated into the beans themselves, then consumed by people and animals. Antibacterial soaps also contribute to the rise in drug-resistant bacteria. So read the ingredients on any liquid soap you buy! Here are our tips on keeping your child clean safely.
Lunch boxes. Here again, avoid antibacterial chemical coatings--might sound appealing, but NOT good for your child or the planet. Good options: BPA-free plastic or unpainted stainless steel. (Read our tips on How to Avoid BPA.) Pack food in reusable containers (such as lightweight stainless steel or #1, 2, 4 or 5 plastics). Check out our easy, healthy school lunch ideas.
Beverage bottles. All the kids are doing it! Save the planet and help your child avoid sugary beverages by sending yours with filtered water in a reusable bottle made from BPA-free plastic, BPA-free aluminum or stainless steel.
Markers. Don't buy dry-erase and permanent markers, which contain solvents. Be wary of scented markers.
Notebooks and binders. Avoid plastic covers on binders and spiral notebooks; they're usually made from PVC (#3 plastic). Opt for recycled cardboard or natural fibers instead, or look for "no PVC" on the label.
Paper products. Look for recycled paper made from at least 30 percent post-consumer waste (PCW) that isn't whitened with chlorine bleach. Choose 100 percent recycled tissues and paper towels made with PCW and without chlorine bleach. Avoid added lotion, fragrance and dyes.
Glue. The best options: glue sticks, white/yellow/clear "school" glue.
Cell phones. A lot of kids have cell phones. If purchasing a new phone, choose one with lower radiation ("SAR" value) by searching EWG's cell phone database. Teach your child that when she's not using it, she should turn it off, store it in her backpack or somewhere else away from the body, and text instead of talking.