Photo: Parents make schools green

Moms and dads drive schools to go green. (Credit: vadot via Flickr)

When it comes to creating safe, toxic-free classrooms, parents are leading the way.

They're regular moms and dads, whose concern for their children's future and well-being have pushed them to take extraordinary action:

People like Tamara Rubin — who responded to her children's lead poisoning by developing tools and resources for parents to test for and take action on lead in schools; and Lori Alper — whose petition to eliminate toxic phthalates from school supplies and lunch boxes has more than 60,000 signatures and the attention of the Wall Street Journal. (Have you signed yet?)

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Could you be one of these change-leading parents?

We think so! When I asked Lori about her journey to eco-advocacy, she explained that while living an organic, non-toxic lifestyle can directly affect personal health and well-being, it's our collective voice that brings about widespread change.

What would you do to keep your kids safe at school?

Make it a better back to school! Talk to teachers, school administrators and/or the parent advisory council about detoxifying your kids' classroom:

1. Take care of the air. An open window or air-cleansing plant helps create a healthier classroom.

2. Switch to "Ecologo" or Green Seal cleaners. Products with either certification are recommended by the Ontario school board.

3. Declare school a scent-free zone. Kids as young as eight are using cosmetics (like hairspray, deodorant and lip gloss) loaded with fragrance, which is associated with rising asthma and other childhood respiratory conditions in North America.

4. Ditch antibacterial soaps. Many antibacterial soaps contain triclosan, a Dirty Dozen ingredient to avoid. According the Health Canada, plain soap and water is the most effective (and safest) choice for school bathrooms.

It starts with each of us, but takes a community! The Green Moms Collective has ten tweetable tips you can share to spread the word and lead the change.

As important as what's in the classroom, is what our kids put on before they get there.

Teens — and even pre-teens — are using cosmetics. Help the kids choose products free of the dirty dozen. Adria Vasil (Ecoholic) has some great lip gloss recommendations and our brigade homeopath, Kelli Christine Ewing, promises this DIY deodorant really works!

Tovah Paglaro, a fellow Queen of Green

September 12, 2013

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Oct 04, 2013
6:53 AM

We need to start demanding that our Government force companies to disclose the toxic chemicals in scented laundry, cleaning and body care products so that parents have the necessary information to choose safer options. Even if we can convince schools to enforce scent free policies, many of the children come to school covered in heavily scented clothing and residue from scented products like candles and air fresheners at home. These products off gas (for lack of a better term) and cling to the air and everything else around them, which renders any gains from a scent free policy moot! I would like to believe that if parents knew what they were coating their children (and themselves!) in that they would be terrified and stop immediately! I know that as a person with Multiple chemical sensitivities, I wish that these parents would understand that we all share the air and when their child goes to school marinated in scented products my children and all of their stuff comes home covered in scented products!

Oct 01, 2013
10:59 AM

Does anyone know a good toxic free school grade cleaning solutions? Also is there a official definition of school grade chemicals? We are trying, in our kids school, to transition to chemical free so I’m researching on this topic.

Sep 15, 2013
12:42 PM

I want a toxic free class room for my son! It’s important for his health and the environment.

Sep 13, 2013
6:14 PM

We can do all sorts of things at home to reduce chemical and toxin exposure to our kids… Then they spend all their waking hours somewhere else… And that needs to be a good, safe place too <3. Take the pledge mamas and papas

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