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Here’s How To Minimize The Hazardous Chemicals In Your Child’s Back-To-School Routine

Heather White
Author:
September 25, 2015
Heather White
Author & Environmental policy expert
By Heather White
Author & Environmental policy expert
Heather White is a conservation policy and green living expert. She is the CEO and founder of OneGreenThing.org and the author of "One Green Thing: Discover Your Hidden Power to Help Save the Planet." She is the former President & CEO of Yellowstone Forever and Executive Director of EWG.
Photo by Getty Images
September 25, 2015

It’s back-to-school time. Grab a backpack. Pack a lunchbox. But this year, leave the toxic chemicals behind.

Shopping for the newest and shiniest supplies is a fun September ritual, but certain school products are made with some pretty nasty chemicals. This year, follow these simple rules for a fun and safe school year.

1. Avoid lunchtime plastics.

When planning and making your child’s lunch, skip the plastic. Use reusable materials instead of plastic bags or utensils to reduce waste and lessen your child’s exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals like BPA and phthalates. Choose natural-fiber bags or unpainted stainless-steel lunch boxes instead.

Check out this guide for easy techniques to help your family cut down on household plastics.

2. Avoid PVC in school supplies.

While you’re shopping for a new backpack or lunch box, watch out for recycling code #3. Plastic #3 is made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) — a synthetic material that creates highly toxic and carcinogenic dioxins during manufacturing. PVC plastics are softened with phthalates, which have been shown to disrupt the hormone system. Opt for natural-fiber bags instead, or plastics #1, 2, 4, and 5.

3. Pack a healthy lunch.

This year, skip the processed snack bars in favor of whole, healthy foods. Use EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists for ideas on how to pick fruits and vegetables with less pesticide residue. Be especially careful of apples, as they top the Dirty Dozen list for the fifth year in a row! Instead, try pineapple, mangoes or kiwis — all of which made the Clean Fifteen this year.

4. Hydrate sustainably.

Skip bottled water altogether. Single-use plastics are unsustainable and may contain harmful chemicals. In addition, bottled water isn’t necessarily cleaner than tap since its producers don’t have to disclose where the water comes from, how it's purified, or any water-quality test results. Opt instead for a reusable stainless-steel bottle filled with filtered tap water when sending your child off to school or sports practice.

Looking for more simple tips to help make your family's life a little greener? Check out my Clean Living 101 and Clean Cosmetics video courses.

Heather White
Heather White

Heather White is a conservation policy and green living expert. She is the CEO and founder of OneGreenThing.org and the author of One Green Thing: Discover Your Hidden Power to Help Save the Planet.

Heather’s former role as the leader of the nonprofit Yellowstone Forever was to connect people to Yellowstone National Park through outstanding environmental educational programs and provide millions of dollars in philanthropic support to the park. Previously, Heather was the executive director of Environmental Working Group (EWG), director of education advocacy for National Wildlife Federation, and counsel to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, and an associate in a large law firm. Heather received her bachelor's degree in environmental science from the University of Virginia and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee College of Law. She's a frequent spokesperson in the national media and has been a featured expert on environmental law and policy on Dr. OZ, MSNBC, PBS, CBS and in the New York Times, Washington Post, the Guardian, and USA Today. She lives in Bozeman, Montana.

Read More About Heather White

More from the author:

Clean Living 101

Check out Make Small Changes Towards Living A Healthier, Chemical-Free Life

Learn more

More from the author:

Clean Living 101

Check out Make Small Changes Towards Living A Healthier, Chemical-Free Life

Learn more
Heather White
Heather White

Heather White is a conservation policy and green living expert. She is the CEO and founder of OneGreenThing.org and the author of One Green Thing: Discover Your Hidden Power to Help Save the Planet.

Heather’s former role as the leader of the nonprofit Yellowstone Forever was to connect people to Yellowstone National Park through outstanding environmental educational programs and provide millions of dollars in philanthropic support to the park. Previously, Heather was the executive director of Environmental Working Group (EWG), director of education advocacy for National Wildlife Federation, and counsel to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, and an associate in a large law firm. Heather received her bachelor's degree in environmental science from the University of Virginia and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee College of Law. She's a frequent spokesperson in the national media and has been a featured expert on environmental law and policy on Dr. OZ, MSNBC, PBS, CBS and in the New York Times, Washington Post, the Guardian, and USA Today. She lives in Bozeman, Montana.

Read More About Heather White

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