While you're enjoying the last days of summer, the new school year looms ahead and the pressure to purchase adds to what is often an already a stressful time for many kids and parents. It can also be an opportunity to start fresh. So while you and your littles head off to shop, keep in mind the life cycle of your purchases: their manufacturing may have dumped toxic pesticides and other chemicals into the environment and into the bodies of exploited workers and their families.
Good news is that there are lots of eco-friendly options that can make back to school all the way cool (well, other than the fact that you still have to get everyone up and out every morning!).
Lunchbox options: PVC, or polyvinyl chloride (a.k.a vinyl), can be found in most shoes, boots, lunch boxes and backpacks. It is known to lodge in the fatty tissue of animals and humans and can cause health problems such as cancer, organ damage and immune suppression. It is one of the most persistent and toxic of all man made chemicals. So opt for old-fashioned stainless steel lunch boxes instead. I just found a great Curious George one for my nephew. I also like Mimi the Sardine Lunch Bags, and the faux-plastic Laptop Lunches bento style boxes -- which are actually made of corn starch.
Choose brown, wax-paper bags instead of plastic baggies to avoid adding to our landfills and leaching phthalates into your child's food. Earthpak.com has great recycled rubber back packs. Sigg.com and KleanKanteen.com offer healthy water bottle alternatives to the over 3 million plastic bottles that end up in landfills every day in the United States.
Buy organic cotton clothing. Cotton production accounts for a large percentage of the pesticide contamination of our waterways and food chain. Target has started carrying some organic options, and Patagonia and Garden Kids Clothing are other great options.
You've now saved fossil fuels, your child's health and your own guilt. How to teach Johnny that enough is enough... well, that's another story.