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2015-09-07 09:15:31

The weather may say midsummer, but the calendar never lies: Back-to-school season is here, and it’s time to stock up on the supplies our kids need for the upcoming months. Unfortunately, the average school supply aisle at the typical retailer can be a virtual study in toxic trouble spots. But greener options abound!
Here’s how to safely pass the shopping test:
1. No lead for lunch. Lunch boxes made from soft plastic vinyl may contain lead. While many manufacturers have responded to consumer concerns by removing this dangerous metal from their products, the safest bet is a metal lunch box or reusable fabric lunch bag.
2. Learn the ABCs of PVC. In addition to lead, polyvinyl chloride, the soft flexible plastic found in everything from those lunch boxes to pencil cases and binders to backpacks and rain gear commonly contains phthalates, a toxic hormone mimicker. Vinyl is identified by a recycling symbol with the number “3” inside it, or the letters “V” or “PVC” underneath. Select PVC-free items instead.
3. Ban the BPA. This potent endocrine disruptor is a common component of the polycarbonate plastics used to make reusable water bottles. And those bottles will add it to whatever they hold—beverages, soups, and more. Look for options made from uncoated stainless steel or those labeled “BPA-free.” Keep in mind the latter isn’t a third party certified claim.
4. Stock up on safer supplies. Many markers and glues contain unsafe chemical additives like phthalates and volatile solvents, which are inhaled when kids use them. Strong fumes and odors are a key clue. Look for scent-free, water-based pens and white glues and glue sticks.
5. Reuse! Keep in mind that you may already have all the pencils, pens, folders, notebooks, calculators, and other things your children need waiting in last year’s scholastic leftovers. The less you purchase, the more you’ll save. And we’re not only talking about money!

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