Non-Toxic Back-to-School Essentials

Summertime is over, and it’s time for the kids to head back to school once again. Along with meeting teachers, buying new clothes, getting into a school year routine, and so many other items on our back-to-school to-do lists, this time of year also means...back-to-school shopping! And let’s be honest: School shopping can be stressful as we want to send our kids to school with the safest products we can find. Never fear—we’ve got you covered! We’re sharing 6 tips you can use when buying non-toxic back-to-school essentials, ensuring the 2022-2023 school year will be as safe as possible.

Backpacks and lunch boxes: Avoid backpacks and lunch boxes with shiny plastic designs as they often contain PVC and may contain lead. We all know the dangers of lead, but why can PVC be an issue? PVC is dangerous to both our health and the environment as it is manufactured using cancer-causing chemicals. It’s also a toxic plastic that is unnecessarily used in products that can be dangerous during its production, use, and disposal. How do you know if a product contains PVC? The word “vinyl” on the packaging is a clue, and if you see “V” or “PVC” underneath the universal recycling symbol or a “3” inside the symbol, that product contains PVC. You can learn more about PVC here.

Lunch box food containers: Packing your kids’ lunches can be not only money-saving, but healthier overall as well. When packing those lunches, ditch the zipper plastic bags and use washable pouches and containers instead. Some are definitely less toxic than others, so in addition to looking for non-BPA products, learn more about the best food-grade plastics for you and your family here.

Water bottles: We hope our kids are drinking water all day long, so it’s important to make sure that their water bottles are as safe as possible. When looking for a water bottle, look for those that are BPA-free. Most water bottles will state this on the labeling, but you can also check the recycling code on the bottle too. Look for a “1,” “2,” “4,” or “5” in the recycling code to ensure a water bottle is BPA-free. Additionally, we recommend going for glass! You can get glass bottles with silicone coverings to prevent possible mishaps. :)

School supplies: Choose non-toxic, fragrance free, and non-plastic-coated school supplies as often as you can. This goes for markers, crayons, binders, pencil cases, notebooks, glue, erasers...basically any supplies your kids need in the classroom. When it comes to crayons, which are on just about any school supply list, did you know that a recent study found that some crayons contain asbestos? While that can be very disturbing, you can ensure that your kids’ crayons are safe by looking for the “AP-Certified Non-Toxic” seal or verbiage on the packaging.

Hand sanitizer: Even though we’re all returning to more of a pre-COVID “normal,” using hand sanitizer is still a way of life. While washing with soap and water is still encouraged, soap and water are not always readily available. Where hand sanitizer is concerned, the CDC recommends using alcohol-based, contaminant-free hand sanitizers with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. And while these types of hand sanitizers are easy to find, you might be surprised as to some of the ingredients they might actually contain. Since the kids will be using hand sanitizer throughout the school day, opt for an all-natural hand sanitizer whenever possible. The kids will still get the sanitizing benefits without any added contaminants.

Learn more about what’s actually in your hand sanitizer here.

Cleaning supplies: Toxic cleaning supplies—the ones that are readily available wherever we shop—are not only dangerous for kids who unknowingly ingest them, but the chemicals used to manufacture these cleaning supplies can be especially dangerous for kids since even the smallest exposure can affect kids more than adults. Kids are smaller, after all. Toxic cleaning supplies can potentially cause poorer air quality, irritate the eyes and skin, cause pollution in waterways when disposed incorrectly, and more. So, encourage your children’s school and teachers to use non-toxic cleaning supplies whenever possible, and don’t forget to use them at home too.

Learn more about the cleaning supplies commonly used in our homes here.

Our kids spend anywhere from 3-7 hours a day at school during the 9-ish months of the school year. That’s a huge portion of their lives! So, while making sure our kids’ school supplies and classroom environments are as safe as possible can feel daunting, taking the time to do a little research can make all the difference. Knowledge is power, after all. And be sure to help your kids’ teachers out by donating non-toxic school supplies throughout the year. Teachers are on tight budgets, and many often use their own funds when furnishing their classrooms. Teachers will be so grateful, and you’ll be doing even more to make school a safer place for everyone!

What are your favorite non-toxic products? We want to hear about it! Please shoot us a note at so we can check them out! 😃