School is right around the corner, which means it is time to order my favorite Avery cardboard binders. Over the years, I have switched to these type of binders since I was sick and tired of throwing away those vinyl binders. At the end of the year I recycle rather than trash all the worn binders. However, the waste issue is only one of the reason you should switch your school supplies. According to the Center for Health, Justice and the Environment, many school supplies contain high levels of phthalates since they contain PVC which can be harmful to your child’s health.
The Touch Test
Think about it. Many of our children’s school supplies contain PVC such as binders, notebooks, backpacks, lunch boxes, and art supplies. The list goes on. CHJE reports that phthalates can cause ADD, neurological disorders, endocrine disruptions, and more illnesses.
“Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) is a plastic common in many consumer products including children’s school supplies. The use of vinyl in school supplies and other products requires the addition of plasticizers such as phthalates and stabilizers such as lead, cadmium and organotins.xii,xiii,xiv Without these additives, it’s not possible to use vinyl to make school supplies. Since the phthalates and other additives are not chemically bound to the vinyl, they can migrate out of the product.xv,xvi,xvii In turn,children may be exposed to these hazardous substances by using and playing with these products. “[source]
What Should a Parent Do?
Mike Schade of CHEJ during his video interview with Karen Lee and I on behalf of Green Sisterhood explains the dangers of our children’s school supplies and easy tips on how to avoid the toxic ones. Be sure to watch the video:
Some tips for back to school shopping:
- Read CHEJ’s 2013 back to school supplies list and print the wallet size list to take with you to the store. The 25 page list contains many different PVC free school items that can be bought at conventional stores.
- If you see a #3 recycling code on any of the school supplies, then the product contains PVC. Look for products that say BPA and PVC free.
- Don your frugalista and first see if you have the items at home. You might be surprised that you can re-use last years items (provided they are PVC free to begin with.)
- Be sure to read teacher Katy’s (of Non-Toxic Kids) assessment of the right reusable water bottle for your kids.
What else can you do?
- Send an email to your school principal with CHEJ’s green purchasing tools and resourcesto encourage the school’s use of green building and cleaning supplies.
- Support CHEJ’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign so they can continue to testing school supplies.
(Updated: campaign is closed.)
Join the Conversation:
- What kind of nontoxic school supplies do you purchase?
- Have you made the switch? If not, why.