If you’re concerned about toxic school supplies, well, you should be. There’s plenty to be concerned about. For example, The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), points out that “The average child’s character-themed backpack is filled with supplies and materials made from the most toxic plastic for our health and environment, polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl).” PVC, over its lifetime, can release icky stuff like phthalates, lead and dioxin – chemicals that have been linked to learning and developmental disabilities, asthma, obesity and cancer. Even worse, PVC is one of the most widely used hazardous plastic materials in the world. Your child is unlikely to avoid PVC, so at the very least you can make sure your child isn’t carrying a PVC laden backpack to school. This is where CHEJ can help. CHEJ has just released their  2011 Back to School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies Guide, and it can help you make smarter choices about which products to purchase and which products to avoid when shopping for school supplies this year.

The 2011 Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies Guide, now in its 4th year, contains over 35 categories of school supplies. Backpacks to folders to school clothing to lunchboxes to computers, and more are covered in the guide. You can even download a handy wallet-sized version of the guide to take with you when you shop. Here are a few key tips for avoiding toxic PVC school supplies:

  1. Look for non-shiny backpacks, which are more likely to contain PVC and lead.
  2. Avoid plastic lunchboxes and aim for reusable cloth lunch bags or metal lunchboxes instead.
  3. Most 3-ring binders are made of PVC (the shiny ones). Instead look for recycled cardboard, fabric-covered, or polypropylene notebooks and binders.

+ The 2011 Back to School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies

+ The Center for Health, Environment & Justice

Lead image ©cienpies via sxc.