Warning: Back-to-School supplies can be unhealthy

Time for mom and dad to do a little reading.

Even though the temperature shows no indication of change, fall will soon be here.  And for many of you that means back-to-school.  This morning I was listening to NBC’s Today show where they were giving hints on how and when to shop to get the best bargains in today’s economic times.  Might I suggest that while you are looking at price tags on school supplies that you also read the labels on the inside of clothing and on packaging!

When back-to-school shopping, avoid buying school supplies containing polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) or other toxic plastics.

According to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), PVC plastic is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created. PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout the chemical’s entire life cycle; at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash. Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats. When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

Children are at risk from even small exposures to these toxic chemicals. That’s why it’s important to purchase PVC-free school supplies.

The CHEJ recently released this year’s Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies to empower all of us to make smarter, healthier shopping choices for a toxic-free future. The guide lists the most common back-to-school supplies made out of PVC plastic and suggests safer PVC-free alternatives.

You can also download the wallet-sized version of the guide here: http://www.chej.org/publications/PVCGuide/PVCwallet.pdf

WHAT TO AVOID:

  • Products that are labeled with the words “vinyl” on the packaging.
  • The number “3” inside the universal recycling symbol.
  • The letters “V” or “PVC” underneath the universal recycling symbol.
  • Other toxic plastics to avoid: polycarbonate (PC), polystyrene (PS) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastics.
  • If there isn’t any labeling indicating what the product is made of, call the manufacturer’s question/comment line (usually a toll-free 800 number) listed on the package to find out.

For additional information:

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Rather than recycling or tossing PVC items, like old vinyl curtains and floor tiles, in the trash, Mike Schade, CHEJ’s PVC campaign coordinator, recommends disposing of them in hazardous waste landfill sites. Call your sanitation department or state environmental agency to see where you might dispose of hazardous material.

The CHEJ also suggests returning PVC products and packaging to retailers and manufacturers. “We recommend consumers contact manufacturers and let them know that PVC is an unacceptably toxic material and that it should not be used in production,” says Anne Rabe with the CHEJ. “As consumers, they can also send that message by not purchasing products packaged or made from PVC.

This is becoming an easier task already. Rabe points out that there are a number of PVC alternatives already on the market. For example, Ikea now sells non-PVC shower curtains exclusively.

Some manufacturers have already heard the calls for a halt to PVC use in production. The CHEJ has successfully worked with Victoria’s Secret and Microsoft to eliminate PVC from their packaging and is currently in talks with Target, Sears and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has already committed to eliminating PVC in its private-label-product packaging in two years.

Source: CHEJ’s report, PVC: The Poison Plastic

About craigruark

Craig A. Ruark is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing and PR professional. In 2008, Craig became one of the first non-technical persons to become an Accredited Professional by the U.S. Green Building Council for ‘Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design” (LEED AP). Over the years he has immersed himself in the subject of “sustainability” and by combining this knowledge with his expertise in marketing and advertising, has published a book titled “Marketing Your Green Side,” which is available through Amazon. Craig is an avid fitness participant, sailor, SCUBA diver, enjoys singing Karaoke, listening to jazz, and is working on his next book.
This entry was posted in Environment, Green, Public Interest, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Waste Minimization and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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