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EcoWaste Coalition Shares Tips for Safe Back-to-School Shopping

Back-to-School Shopping

7 August 2023, Quezon City. As consumers flock to retail stores ahead of the start of school year 2023-2024 on August 29, a non-profit group monitoring children’s products for chemical safety released a set of tips for purchasing safer school supplies that every learner deserves.

As young children are highly vulnerable to the health effects of toxic chemicals, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded companies who manufacture and distribute school supplies and other children’s products to ensure the safety of young learners from such chemicals.

While school supplies are generally safe to use, there are products that may contain chemicals of concern such heavy metals like cadmium and lead, and plasticizers called phthalates, which are added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic to soften and make it flexible.

Picking PVC-free school supplies, for example, is a sound choice to make as this will minimize children’s exposure to hazardous chemicals such as phthalates, and also avoid problems linked with the disposal of waste containing PVC, which can generate cancer-causing dioxins if burned.

Children are easily exposed to hazardous chemicals because they tend to breathe more air, drink more water and eat more food than grown-ups, as well as put their fingers or objects in their mouths and thus increase the potential to ingest toxicants in dust or soil, the EcoWaste Coalition explained, adding children are most susceptible to chemical exposure as their brains, bodies and immune systems are still developing and maturing.

Back-to-School Shopping

Here are some safety tips when purchasing essential school supplies:

  1. Make a back-to-school shopping list before going out (or placing an order online) to avoid impulsive spending, and prioritize products that are safe and suitable for your children. Bring reusable bags to the store and say no to plastic bags. And, to stretch your budget, check old school supplies that can still be safely reused before buying new ones.
  2. Check the product label, including age grading, hazard warnings and safety precautions.
  3. Avoid plastic products such as backpacks, lunchboxes, envelopes and the like that are made of PVC plastic, which often have a strong chemical smell and are marked with the number “3” or letters “PVC” or “V” (for vinyl).
  4. Pick erasers that are labeled “phthalate-free” or “PVC-free,” and refrain from choosing food-shaped and scented ones, which may entice kids to put erasers in their mouths.
  5. Refrain from picking notebooks with PVC plastic cover and those with spring wire with plastic, which may contain PVC.
  6. Choose plain metal paper clips as colored ones may be coated with PVC plastic.
  7. If you have already bought plastic products like rain coats, rain boots, envelopes, and backpacks with strong chemical smell, set them outside in the sunshine to get rid of the odor.
  8. Steer clear of art materials like crayons and water colors that have been banned or warned by the health authorities for containing heavy metals, particularly lead, a brain-damaging chemical.
  9. Select crayons, water colors and modeling clay that are labeled “non-toxic” and those with manufacturer’s markings.
  10. Pick plain or unpainted reusable stainless steel water bottles, and avoid painted ones unless the paint used is certified “lead-safe.”

Hazardous chemicals should not be present in school supplies, toys and all other products marketed for children’s consumption, which are meant to assist them with their healthy growth and development, the EcoWaste Coalition insisted.



EcoWaste Coalition
Let's make an eco-friendly, zero waste, and toxic-free Philippines a reality.