PVC Free School Supplies Guide Now Available

Don’t Let School Supplies Pose a Toxic Threat to Your Children’s Health

A new back to school guide has just been released by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) – and this guide will help you to keep toxic plastics at arms length from your little munchkins.

So whether you’re a homeschooler, like us, or your kids go to a separate school, this PVC Free School Supply guide will help you avoid the worst of the products and make healthier choices.

If you’re getting ready to pick up school supplies for your kids, you ought to know that one of the materials used in making lunchboxes, binders, backpacks, and other common products is one of the most toxic plastics around: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl).

“We strive to make ours homes a healthy and safe environment for our children to grow up in. But what about the eight hours they spend in school each day? Unfortunately, many school supplies are composed of PVC, the poison plastic. This plastic can contain a toxic stew of phthalates, lead, cadmium, and organotins—it’s a recipe for disaster.” –  Mike Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator for CHEJ

Toxic chemicals such as dioxin are released during the lifecycle of PVC, and children are especially vulnerable to such exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Americans are exposed to up to 1,200 times more dioxin than our own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe, and the amount of dioxin that infants are exposed to is up to 77 times higher than the level they have defined as harmless to their endocrine and immune systems.

Links have been made between chemicals released by PVC and the rise in chronic diseases in children, such as asthma, cancer, obesity, and learning disabilities, so keeping them away from our kids is an important task for us as parents.

Pick up a copy of the 3rd Annual Edition of CHEJ’s popular Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies, and find out which products are much safer for your children to use and wear this coming school year. It covers 20+ categories of school supplies, and an iPhone app for the guide is due out later this month.

Here are a couple of the top tips for avoiding toxic PVC in school supplies:

  • Avoid backpacks with shiny plastic designs as they often contain PVC and may contain lead.
  • Use cloth lunchboxes or metal lunchboxes. Many lunchboxes are made of PVC, or coated with PVC on the inside.
  • Used cardboard, fabric-covered, or polypropylene binders. Most 3-ring binders are made of PVC.

“Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contains dangerous chemical additives such as phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to a child’s health. Federal law has banned the use of phthalates in toys even as it is still used in children’s school supplies. Both Congress and the President’s Cancer Panel have called for greater regulation of such toxic chemicals in consumer products, but parents can act now to protect their children’s health by making smart shopping choices.”

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

11 thoughts on “PVC Free School Supplies Guide Now Available

  • August 3, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for sharing, Derek!

  • August 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Definitely thanks for sharing. More parents need to be aware of this information, especially with all the “Back to School” sales going on now.

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  • August 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    This was completely unhelpful. You preach with almost religious fervor against this material, but give no suggestions other than the blatantly obvious! Really.. a cloth or canvas bag? And I suppose I can just whip up some three ring binders which are required supplies for my kids. You’re not doing anything but attempting to lay on a guilt trip to mindless yuppies. I hope this comment makes you feel superior and gives you a sense of pity for those with a ‘smaller scope’ than you. You people piss me off.

    • August 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm

      Seriously? That’s the best you can do, Mr Anonymous ‘Frustrated’? Did you get the guide and read it?

      The only guilt trip here is the one ya brung with ya, but thanks for letting us piss you off!

  • August 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Again – thank you for sharing. I am always trying to think of ways to convince other moms that this is important – and for real!

  • August 9, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Wow, what an eye-opener. I will definitely pass this information on to my daughter-in-law. I was unaware of the site you mentioned and will let her know about that too.

    Thanks for getting the word out.

  • August 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! We’re beginning to gear up for our first official homeschooling year and although we’re mindful to avoid a lot of chemicals, I hadn’t thought to apply what we know to school supplies. (Sounds crazy, I know!)

    Thanks for the link. I liked the idea of sending my old PVC back to the manufacturer too- wouldn’t that be a wake-up call if these companies were inundated by their own pollution with nowhere to safely dispose of it? Makes me consider this as a potential school project…
    Thanks again.

  • August 9, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    We are far from having to worry about school supplies as of yet (our daughter Anjali just turned 6 months old), and we’re already geared toward homeschooling…But these warnings/tips are crucial. We are generally keeping all things plastic away from our daughter and have eliminated so many chemical cleaners and substances from our house and lives well before Anjali’s arrival.

    I find it funny (and sad) how people become defensive about our “alternative” choices, and being conscious about what products we are choosing for ourselves and our children based on the products personal, social, environmental and economic effects.
    Very commonly heard: “Well, my parents didn’t worry about any of that stuff and I turned out okay.” I’m not even sure what to do with those kinds of statements.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this info!

  • August 10, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for the tip Derek – this is a new world for me as my oldest is getting ready to start Kindergarten. The link to the free guide is wonderful.


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