The start of the new school year has passed, but that does not mean there is no room for improvement with what we bring in our home. As parents, one of our main goals is to keep our kids safe, but what if we are harming their health without knowing? There is a report that states how toxic chemicals are part of popular school products such as lunchboxes. If your kids are not school-aged yet, it is still good to know for the future. This information is also good for you in case you use lunchboxes for on the go outings.

What we know

A report released in 2012 by The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) states that high levels of toxic chemicals were found in school products. This report shows that popular vinyl (what many children’s school products, such as lunchboxes, are often made out of) school supplies contain levels of toxic phthalates as high as 69 times over the federal ban on toys. 80% of children’s back to school supplies contained phthalates. 75% of these supplies contained levels so high, it would be illegal for companies to sell them if they were toys. A big issue here, is that these chemicals have been banned in many kids toys, but somehow are still legal in other kids products.

Phthalates are chemicals that they use to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. These chemicals are used in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, detergents, lubricating oils, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products. Phthalates are also a common additive to PVC’s (polyvinyl chloride), which are the most common plastic materials we see today. They have also been found in kid’s products more recently! Many children’s school supplies, such as lunchboxes, are usually made out of vinyl, which is an unnecessary toxic plastic that is dangerous to children’s health and the environment

These toxic chemicals are harmful

People are exposing themselves to phthalates by eating and drinking foods that have come in contact with containers and products with phthalates in them. They say the risk of exposure is minimal, but children are at risk from even very low-level exposures to these toxic chemicals.

These toxic chemicals are concerning because scientists can associate them to many medical problems. Some of those problems include cancer, allergies, asthma, obesity, behavioral or learning disabilities, and more. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine systems of wildlife and scientists believe that they have a similar harmful effect in humans as well. PVC contains lead. This lead is in children’s plastic lunchboxes and toys unfortunately. PVC is one of the worst health offenders, so it is better to stay away and find better alternatives if possible.

When we think about the plastic used in popular lunchboxes, that probably raises an eyebrow to what other plastic materials our kids are using. You ever think about plastic straws provided with juice boxes? In the past, they would make plastic straws using toxic polystyrene (#6). Today they use a safer polypropylene (#5) or polyethylene (#2). This is because polystyrene is brittle and tends to break very easily. Most straws today they make from plastic with the #2 or #5 label on them. These are safer plastics, but can still be harmful to our environment. With billions of straws piled up in our landfills, being recyclable means nothing. Even though these plastics are recyclable, many people today do not recycle, so environmentally they still pose a harmful threat.

Avoiding toxic chemicals

There is so much plastic in our world today, which is all the more reason why reducing our consumption of it is important. We must also start phasing out the production of plastics moving forward if we want to see improvement. At every stage of its lifecycle, plastic poses distinct risks to human health, arising from both exposure to plastic particles themselves and associated chemicals.

Plastic is everywhere and the best choice you can make is to use no plastic at all. If you must use plastic, try to use the ones that are considered “safe.” These include:

  • #1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)
  • #2 – High Density Polyethyline (HDPE)
  • #4 – Low density polyethylene (LDPE)
  • #5 – Polypropylene

Non toxic and Eco-friendly alternatives

You should always do your research for everything that could possibly do some harm. Even the smallest thing that you would normally think twice about could be harmful to you or your families health and well being. Our mission is to redefine lifestyle with eco-safe and healthy products creating sustainable happiness and making people’s lives better. With this in mind, we provide a lot of stainless steel lunchbox options to choose from. The stainless steel bento box is a great alternative to the plastic bento lunch boxes advertised online. We use high quality food grade 202 stainless steel free from PVC, phthalate, and leaching.

When it comes to straw alternatives, there are a number of eco-friendly options. We provide bamboo straws as an alternative. These straws are eco-friendly, reusable, biodegradable, compostable, sustainable, BPA-Free and Vegan. The bamboo that the straws are made from do not have any dyes or inks on them which is great. They come from a single stem of Bamboo making them super durable. No two straws are the same because the wood is unique in color, thickness, texture, and diameter due to its natural variance. The best thing about them is that you do not have to worry about the chemicals. There are no nasty pesticides or chemicals that you have to worry about being used on the wood while growing. They are a great alternative to single-use plastic straws and wont add to our landfills.

In order to do right by our children and their health, we must start somewhere. Finding better alternatives to the toxic chemicals out there that can be with them for a lifetime will benefit everyone.

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