Today the “resident four year old” starts pre-k for the fall…a moment that any fifty year old chasing a four year old 24/7 looks forward to all summer long.
I imagine that I will drop him off and then come home and sleep until it’s time to pick him back up…I’ll let you know…
So even though he’s only in pre-K and doesn’t need too many things to take with him to school other than his lunch, a stuffed animal, and a nap-pad…(oh year, teachers…good luck getting him to take a nap)…this made me think about upgrading out school and office supplies to more environmentally friendly options.
Even school and office supplies can be unfriendly to the environment, as well as toxic…
A few of the toxic chemicals that are sometimes included in school and office supplies include…
- asbestos (a known carcinogen) in crayons
- benzene (a probable carcinogen) in dry-erase markers
- lead (a neurotoxin) in children’s water bottles
- phthalates (linked to hormone and developmental problems) in 3-ring binders
Not only that many of the companies that make school and office supplies are not cruelty-free.
So it’s important to think about things like that instead of simpy running to Dollar General and buying the cheapest items so that you can cross them off that dreaded back-to-school school supply shopping list this year…
A few trains of thought as far as shopping for school and supplies include…
1.Backpacks…As far as backpacks are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose natural materials, such as cotton or hemp. Never choose PVC plastic at all costs.
2. Crayons and Markers…As far as crayons are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose crayons that are composed from beeswax and soy products. Always avoid cheap crayons which may be laced with asbestos.
3. Lunch Boxes…As far as lunch boxes are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose reusable and durable, PVC-free lunch bags and lunch boxes that will last more than one season. Another great options, especially for adults, would be stainless steels. But whatever you do, avoid using plastic baggies and plastic wrap. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle….(I will look at a few more great options as well as ideas as to what to put in your lunch boxes in a future post).
4. Markers…As far as markers are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose water based markers. Many permanent markers contains chemicals such as xylene, toluene, and other VOCs…which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, my “one new thing learned at school today” for today.
5. Paper…As far as loose-leaf paper, notebooks, and binders are concerned, the main train of thought should be to shop for items made with recycled paper, and binders that either do not have a plastic cover or are clearly labeled PVC-free.
6. Pencils and Pens…As far as pencils and pens are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose pencils that are made from recycled materials or wood from sustainably managed forest…and pens made from recycled plastic.
Thankfully there are sources for better school and office supplies that you would typically find at the local dollar store…sure, they may be more expensive…and honestly, these options might not be way more expensive…but depending on how committed you are or are not about the above concerns in all areas of your family’s life, you may want to get out your debit card so that you can buy some really cool new gadgets for the new school year.
Finally, some really great places online to shop or at least browse at these other options include…