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Back to Turtle Island Environmental Resources

Safer School Supplies

Tips: Safer School Supplies

Just as back-to-school shopping kicks into high gear, Environmental Defence has released a PVC-Free School Supply guide!

Polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC, or vinyl) is used to make a lot of back-to-school products. PVC is a concern because it has dangerous chemical additives, including phthalates, lead, and cadmium. These chemicals may evaporate or leech out of PVC products, and may contribute to developmental disorders and damage of the liver, central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems. Recent studies have linked PVC flooring in the home to increased rates of autism and asthma in children.

The good news is there are lots of school supplies that don't use PVC. That's where the guide comes in. Published by US-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), the guide helps you choose safer, PVC-free supplies. Many of the safer alternatives listed (including brand-name food and beverage containers, backpacks, computers, shoes, and some writing supplies) can be easily found on store shelves across Canada.

Want a list of PVC-free school supplies? You can download it for free right now.

Too many lists? Follow this general advice when hitting the stores this summer:

* Look for non-plastic products whenever possible
* Steer clear of products labelled with the words "vinyl" on the packaging (e.g., vinyl 3-ring binders)
* Don't purchase products with the #3 recycling symbol, or with the letters "V" or "PVC" underneath the recycling symbol (remember that bad news comes in #3's, don't buy PVC)
* Call or email the manufacturer or retailer and ask what type of plastic their product is made of if you are uncertain - you have a right to know.

You can share the PVC-Free School Supply guide with your friends and colleagues - just send them a copy of this email using the link below

Safe shopping,
The Environmental Defence Team

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