Back to School Basics: Silent Spring's Top 10 Tips

Silent Spring Institute

Protect your family from everyday chemicals with Silent Spring's Detox Me app.

Back to school time often means back to the store to stock up on new clothing and school gear. It’s also a great time to think about making some changes in your daily routine to ensure your kids stay safe and healthy. Everyday items, from backpacks to lunches, can contain a wide variety of chemicals. Some of these have been found to interfere with development and fertility, or have been linked with other health effects including allergies, asthma, and cancer. Children’s developing bodies are especially vulnerable to environmental chemicals—so protecting them from harmful everyday exposures now could protect them from developing health problems later in life.

To help busy parents start the school year off right, here are Silent Spring’s Top 10 Back to School Tips!

  • Pass on plastic water bottles. To help your child stay hydrated throughout the day, choose glass or stainless steel instead of plastic.
  • Pick a better backpack. Avoid backpacks made with PVC (or vinyl), as PVC can be a major source of hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates.
  • Steer clear of antibacterial soaps. These products may contain triclosan, nanosilver, and other chemicals of concern.
  • Pack lunch safely. Choose glass, stainless steel, or cloth instead of plastic when it comes to sandwich and snack containers.
  • Consider clothing. Avoid clothing claiming to be stain-resistant, odor-resistant, or have antibacterial properties.
  • Discourage makeup and nail polish. Cosmetics can contain harmful chemicals (or ones with unknown health effects). Encourage your child’s natural beauty.
  • Go organic. Whether it’s an apple for the teacher or your child, choose organic produce as much as possible.
  • Craft carefully. Opt for water-based paints and avoid paints made with solvents. Also, try to avoid aerosol sprays and polymer modeling clays.
  • Ride together. Decrease air pollution by choosing to carpool or take the bus. If you can, walk or ride bikes.
  • Join your parent-teacher organization to advocate for healthier schools. For example, encourage the cafeteria to provide fresh food prepared and served without plastic; discourage the use of pesticides on green spaces; help plant a garden; adopt an anti-idling policy for buses and cars; or support less toxic pest control and cleaning methods.

For more tips on reducing your everyday chemical exposures, check out our free mobile app Detox Me—Silent Spring’s guide to healthier living. 

Contributed by Silent Spring Institute