Non-toxic back to school ideas

Michelle Bexelius, co-founder of

Going to school is the most exciting thing to do as the new kid on the block. There are so many new things to discover and learn, but I've noticed that so many things can be improved to strengthen their experience.

The first thing I noticed as a parent of a kindergartener touring schools is the lack of fresh air and circulation in the classrooms. There are enough germs going on between buddies. Wouldn't it be nice to open the windows or better yet, use an air filter to also rid the place from bacteria and dust? Who wants to bring that home anyway?

Ventilation is especially important in the presence of art materials such as glues and paints as the little guys create their masterpieces. Air filters don't cost much these days and the filters really only need to be replaced every 3-5 years.

Each year school supplies get replenished after hours of use, spilling, knocking over, etc., but one thing I would like to see is schools starting to use more non-toxic ingredients for the little hands that touch them. Glues and crayons can be made without animal by-products and lead. Soy wax crayons and safe glues are a phenomenal alternative.

Here's a list of some things you can do to make your school green and healthy:

  • Ask the grounds crew to use natural herbicides and pesticides.

  • Create paper, plastic, and aluminum recycling centers near waste bins.

  • Request that the school copy center and administrative offices use 100% recycled paper.

  • Work with the administration and food services departments to eliminate Styrofoam cups and plastic utensils, and to use non toxic cleaning products.

  • Place air filters in the classrooms

  • Suggest that your school compost leftovers for a school or community garden. If your child's school doesn't have a garden, organize an effort to create one.

  • Encourage the school to stock up on recycled paper goods: toilet paper, napkins, and paper towels

  • Pack your child's school supplies box with soy wax crayons (a host of regular crayons have lead in them)

  • Make sure your child's school is aware of environmentally safe paints for buildings

  • Suggest wax paper bags for home lunches brought to school

For more green back-to-school ideas, check out


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