2010 PVC Free School Supplies

I can’t believe we’re in ‘Back to School’ season already.  In the Pacific NW, summer started, like yesterday.  It was a loooooong rainy winter and I’m not sure spring even showed up this year. 

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice has just released their Back to School Guide for PVC Free School Supplies.  Remember, PVC is the “poison plastic” and one you should avoid as much as possible because of the nasty chemicals it leaches.

This comprehensive 17 page guide lists everything from art supplies to backpacks to binders to dry erase markers and paperclips (colored paper clips are coated with PVC).  Everything you could possibly need for school is on this list.  Print it out and take it with you to the store.  If you want the condensed version, print out the wallet size version.

A great place to start your shopping is Stubby Pencil Studio.  The owner and mama, Kate, finds non-toxic school supplies for all ages.

My kids aren’t yet of the age where I need to purchase “school supplies” but many of the the items on the list we still use in our home office or for home craft projects so I’ll be referencing it frequently.  You’ll be surprised at how many things you use on a regular basis that have PVC.  The good news is that there ARE alternatives!

What PVC free school supplies will you be buying this year?


Waste Free Lunches

Tonight, as I was packing my daughter’s lunch, I realized that without even thinking about it, I was packing a waste free lunch.  Just by keeping a couple things on hand at all times, it has become second nature.  Most of these things you probably already have, it’s just getting into the habit of using them every day. If you are missing a few things, I’ve provided some of my favorite options.

LUNCHBOX – When I was in school, we used paper bags for our lunch everyday.  I cringe when I think of how many of them we just threw away.  Now, I pack my kid’s lunch in a reusable lunchbox.  There are tons of options like the PlanetBox Stainless Steel lunchbox, old school metal lunchboxes, plastic bento style lunchboxes,  or theKids Konserve insulated lunch sacks made from recycled bottles.  Just make sure that whatever you buy is PVC Free – oftentimes you’ll find that fabric lunchboxes have a PVC lining – check the tags.

REUSABLE BAGS – This is one of the places where you can really cut down on waste, particularly if you are using plastic baggies for sandwiches and snacks.  Lunchskins makes reusable bags both in sandwich and snack sizes.  They are made with a cotton fabric that is coated with a food-safe polyurethane liner.  I currently have 2 but am planning to get several more because I’m always using them!  I can use them for more than just food and I love that I can throw them in the dishwasher.

REUSABLE CONTAINERS – Another way to replace your plastic baggies is to use a reusable container.   It can be as easy as using a plastic container, stainless steel Lunchbots or Kinderville silicone storage jars

UTENSILS – For older children, you can grab a  fork and/or spoon from your silverware drawer.  If you’re concerned they might not make it home, stop by Goodwill and pick up some 10 cent utensils for lunches.  No worries if it accidentally is left at school (dirty. in the locker. never to be seen again.).  For younger children, buy kid-size plastic or metal utensils that are the right size for their mouths.  We use metal utensils from Pottery Barn Kids and have been really happen with them.

CLOTH NAPKIN – Paper napkins may be cheap but they are also wasteful.  We’ve been using cloth napkins for a year and they aren’t any more work – I just throw them in any load of laundry that is being done. 

DRINK BOTTLE -It seems like everyone has jumped on the stainless steel drink bottle bandwagon, but if you haven’t – now is a good time.  You can find them EVERYWHERE – we happen to use KleanKanteen for our kids but you can pick them up anywhere from Starbucks, to the grocery store, to toy stores.

Once you start packing your own waste free lunches, you might inquire about a school wide program. It has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year.   That is over 800 pounds of waste over 12 years of school – JUST FOR 1 CHILD!  That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for one average-size elementary school – PER YEAR!  Over 225,000 pounds of lunch waste over 12 years of school.  For a great resource to help you start a waste free lunch program at school, visit WasteFreeLunches.org.


Triclosan and Alcohol in Hand Sanitizers

When my daughter started crawling and then walking, she instantly started touching everything she could get her hands on. Most medical recommendations say that washing with good ol’ soap and water is sufficient but sometimes there was no soap and water in sight so hand sanitizer became a ‘must-have’ in my purse.  I couldn’t stand the alcohol smell of most hand sanitizers so with a little research, I found Cleanwell, an alcohol free hand sanitizer, that has a pleasantly light lemon smell.  Little did I know that the smell of alcohol wasn’t the only thing I should have been concerned with.

I didn’t realize the actual amount of alcohol in most hand sanitizers.  I’ve even read that children have been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning from them!   They have a surprisingly heavy amount of ethyl alcohol ( Purell and Germ-X contain 62% ethyl alcohol, a little 2oz bottle = 4 shots of vodka! ).

Triclosan is an anti-bacterial ingredient used not only in hand sanitizers but also in a lot of personal care products.  According to the EWG, it is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. Wastewater treatment does not remove all of the chemical, which means it ends up in our lakes, rivers and water sources.  

The American Medical Association recommends that households do not use anti bacterial products as it contributes to the spread of antibiotic resistant bacterias and the New England Journal of Medicine reports that alcohol based hand sanitizers pose as intoxicants to high-risk populations, like toddlers.

CleanWell, a hand sanitizer made with Ingenium, is a great alternative.  Ingenium is a patented mix mix of plant essential oils, including the active ingredent, thyme oil.  It is 100% biodegradeable and kills 99.99% of germs including MSRA, Salmonella and Staph.  It’s totally safe for kids with no risk of harm from ingestion.   They have a couple products, including a purse version of their hand sanitizer, sanitizer wipes and hand soap.  You can purchase their products in the MGG SHOP, Target, Whole Foods, and Bath & Body Works.  Other alternatives to try: For My Kids or Clean George products.

One last thought : a lot of day care centers, preschools, and schools use hand sanitizers in their classroom.  You might ask them to choose a better product or donate a large bottle to your class. 

FREE STUFF: We have a 6oz bottle ( over 1300 uses! ) of CleanWell Hand Sanitizer to GIVE AWAY to our readers – you can enter to win by signing up for the MGG newsletter by Sunday, March 22 at 11:59PM PST.   The newsletter sign up is located on the right hand, middle section of the MGG homepage.  We will choose one winner at random and notify them by email. Open to 18 year old + residents of the U.S. and Canada.

CONGRATS to Jessica Petlun, the winner of our CleanWell Hand Sanitizer sweepstakes!