Back to school time is upon but wouldn’t you love to send your child with cleaner, greener tips? Well, I gathered all the eco-friendly bloggers I know – and a few that I’m a really big fan of – and posed the question to them: What are your best healthy back to school tips?
Healthy Back to School Tips from Clean, Green Mom Experts
Paige Wolf, Paige Wolf Media & Public Relations
Paige is the author of “Spit that Out!: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt and a blog of the same name. As a publicist, author, blogger, influencer, and green living expert, Paige Wolf offers a unique perspective to companies seeking a modern public relations strategy.
Most teachers these days request Clorox Wipes and/or hand sanitizers on the school supply list. I always ask teachers if they would mind removing those items from the list if I offer to purchase a case of the non-toxic versions of each (SeventhGeneration, EO, CleanWell, etc). If you look for good bulk deals online or in a warehouse store, it can be less than $100 to purchase enough of each of these for the class. Sometimes I see if another parent in the class wants to split it.
Jennifer Labit, Founder & CEO of Cotton Babies
Jennifer is a business leader, author, and speaker and mom of 4 children. She created bumGenius, a world-leading brand of cloth diapers. In her store, she sells a wide selection of products for the conscious parent. On her blog, she writes about everything from her experiences in the baby industry to her journey through the challenges of merging motherhood with full-time corporate leadership.
Getting four kids back to four different schools in the fall can be expensive and chaotic, not to mention resource intensive. We always reclaim reusables like unused folders, notebooks, pens, scissors, and staplers as the kids finish school each year. Those items are organized into drawers. Then, when it’s time to send everyone back to school, we start our school shopping in the drawers.
Carissa Bonham, Creative Green Living
Carissa writes easy and delicious recipes, crafts, DIY projects, gardening tips and hacks as well as green product guides – all with a focus on healthier, green options! She’s also the author of “Beautiful Smoothie Bowls.”
My tip is to avoid school supplies like lunch boxes, backpacks and pencils advertised as containing microban (an anti-microbial chemical). In addition to killing microbes, it is a powerful endocrine disrupter that has no business anywhere near kids.
Alicia Voorhies, Co-Founder, The Soft Landing.
Alicia registered nurse by trade and a confessed research geek. She specializes in safer plastics and serves as editor-in-chief, social media manager and in-house graphics designer for The Soft Landing.
Many common back-to-school supplies are made from PVC, one of the most widely used hazardous plastics in the world. PVC (also known as vinyl) is made with carcinogens and other hidden additives like phthalates, lead and cadmium and is often found in lunchboxes, zippered pencil bags, nap mats, laptops, 3-ring binders and backpacks. You can steer clear of this toxic plastic by avoiding products marked with #3 recycling code and by contacting the manufacturer to find out what plastic your child’s unmarked school supplies are made from. Learn more about how to avoid PVC at thesoftlanding.com.
Jennifer Lance, Founder of Eco Child’s Play (ECP)
Jennifer’s blog is devoted to informing and discussing “Green Parenting for Non-toxic, Healthy Homes”. ECP began in 2006 as site devoted to natural toys, but we quickly realized we needed to expand our mission to include broader issues related to green family life.
1. Think about reducing the amount of money and items you buy for back-to-school. Instead of large shopping trips for clothes and supplies, look for gently-used items and ask teachers for an essentials list to start the year. Purchase paper, pencils, and other necessary supplies made from post-consumer recycled content, as well as their packaging.
2. Unless your school provides organic lunches, send your child with their own meals. You will save money and reduce their exposure to toxins. Also, donate eco-friendly hand soap, essential oils, and cleaning supplies to your child’s classroom, then become involved in your school to make this change universal.
Madeline Blom, Founder, Mommas Organics
Madeline is a health coach. Her mission is to inspire, teach and enlighten those in her path. Her goal is to bring awareness and educate moms and consumers on the benefits of living a holistic lifestyle.
School is back in season and the kids are off! As a parent conscious of what my family puts in and on our bodies, I am very passionate about teaching other parents the importance of an organic and toxic-free lifestyle. Have you thought about the food packaging your sending your kids’ food in? Even if it’s a snack? You’re probably using plastic and it’s probably because you never really thought about replacing it with something else. It’s OK!
How about this? Send your child to school with beverages in a reusable stainless steel bottle, such as Klean Kanteen or Pura Stainless. They come in all different sizes. You can even get sippy cups and start the little ones young. My one year old loves hers! If you send food that you want to keep cool or contained, you can try stainless steel containers as well. They are great for leftovers, too. Reusable sandwich and snack bags are fantastic! You can hand wash them and reuse as often as you like. Going green doesn’t have to be difficult. Be an example and teach your children how to be eco-friendly. They will thank you one day.
Lori Alper, Founder, Editor- in-Chief, Groovy Green Livin
As the new school year rapidly approaches take the time to reevaluate your choices of years past. Green your child’s routine by creating a waste free lunch box where reusables rule and plastic baggies are a thing of the past. By committing to using reusables we can all kick off the school year in an eco-friendly way.
Jessica Cohen, Eat Sleep Be
Jessica is a health coach, a greener living enthusiast and an advocate of paying it forward. Join her to discover ways to be kinder to yourself, to others and to the planet.
Each year I check the class supply list against what we have at home, so we don’t end up purchasing more than necessary. (And there are always a few items that we have already.) When it’s time to purchase the rest, I look for eco-friendly school supplies (such as recycled paper) either at the store or with a quick online search. Just imagine the resources we could save if we all bought recycled paper!
Suzi, Owner of GurlGoneGreen
GurlGoneGreen was birthed out of a strong passion to let others know you can lead a green life, and not compromise style, beauty, and functional living. Here you will find a little of everything. From beauty tips, product reviews, to healthy living; she’s got you covered!
1. Pack a reusable water bottle instead of a juice pouch. Not only will you save money but also your child tons of sugar!2. Get your child involved in packing their lunch too. That way they take some ownership of what their eating and feel a part. It also helps educate them on healthy eating.3. Instead of plastic bags, switch to Stasher Reusable Bags for their lunch snacks. You’ll save money and reduce their exposure to toxic plastic.
Tamikka “Smiley” Reed of phzuniquediva.com
1. Find underwear and socks that are certified organic as well as dye-free.
2. If your child uses deodorant, switch to a natural deodorant brand as traditional deodorants are known to contain toxins that are absorbed by the body. My family and I use Honestly pHresh.
3. Last, provide breakfast and lunch that will support mental health. Boost their brain power!
Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah is the Mother of 3 healthy children, nutrition blogger, and best-selling author who writes about the effective, practical application of traditional diet and holistic, evidence-based wellness within the setting of a modern, sometimes chaotic household.
1. First, make sure their fingernails are nice and trim. I was told by a doctor once that this was a really good way to keep kids well because nails are a big place for germs to collect and spread. This is especially important if your child is prone to putting his/her fingers in the mouth.
2. Second, watch the sweets the week before they go back to school and for several weeks after while they are adjusting to the new school year. The stress of starting back to school can lower immunity to illness so keeping them off sweets as much as possible will keep it from getting into the danger zone.
3. Finally, try to cook with a lot of garlic during those first few weeks back to school. Put it on pizza, in pasta sauces, hiding in meatloaf … in everything you can think of! Garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic that is also anti-viral and can help keep them strong as they get settled into the school year.
Kristi Marsh, Founder, Savvy Women’s Alliance
Many schools are adopting fragrance-free classroom policies to help combat poor air quality and provide relief for children and staff with allergies, sensitivities or asthmatic reactions to the chemicals used in a variety of scented materials. Fragrances can even be linked to less severe ongoing reactions to such as headaches, nausea, and difficulty with concentration. Sometimes it is the sensitivities, sometimes it is the products themselves. Whether your school has a formal policy or not, when sending in classroom donations, choose fragrance-free – including wipes, cleaners supplies.
Andrea Donsky, Founder / Editor-in-Chief NaturallySavvy.com
Andrea is also the host of Naturally Savvy Radio. She’s the co-author of “Unjunk Your Junk Food” and a Health Expert for Breakfast Television Toronto & Montreal. Andrea is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.
Avoid food chemical food coloring. Avoiding artificial colors can make all the difference when it comes to cleaner lunch boxes. Products with artificial food coloring can negatively affect our kids behavior and since we want them to be as focused as possible during the school day it’s best to look for products that use natural food colors from flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables.
Sara Vartanian, Founder and Editor, Green Moms Collective
Sara started Green Moms Collective in 2013. Every week, along with her amazing contributors, Sara shares insight into making better choices for our family’s wellness and the planet with a focus on Canadian content.
1. Keep electronics out of the bedroom. Besides protecting your child’s developing body, too much screen time can have a negative impact on your child’s sleep. Save the bedroom for sleep, stories and quiet activities to preserve a good quality rest.
2. Reusable gear is designed to last and last. I gather all my family’s school supplies in one spot and sort through to see what we actually need. I find I’m adding to my collection year after year, rather than needing to buy whole new sets. It’s so much easier to reconcile spending money on reusable lunch gear when you realize you only need to buy a few more containers for your soon-to-be kindergartener because your and your older children’s lunch gear are all in great shape.
Taesha Butler, The Natural Nurturer
Taesha is a mother, wife, and teacher based in the San Diego area who has a deep passion for healthy living and, through her blog, aims to inspire parents and caregivers with ideas and easy wholesome recipes that are delicious, healthy, and family friendly.
1. One tip I would give to families looking to pack healthy lunches for theirs children is to invest in a really great reusable container! I like stainless steel since they last a long time and are forgiving if they get dropped. They are also dishwasher safe and usually don’t have plastic touching your child’s food.2. Another tip I would say is keep the food simple and whole! Hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit and raw veggies with dip is super easy to throw together on a busy morning but are very nutrient dense and filling!
Josie Maurer, Owner, YumYucky Blog
Her blog is dedicated to helping you achieve your healthy living goals with a sensible, stress-free approach that won’t leave you starved for your favorite foods. Josie a mom 4 who has lost over 40 pounds in my weight loss journey. She shares motivation, workouts, healthy recipes and natural health tips.
One way I’m sending the kids back to school with less toxins is to ensure a reusable water bottle is packed in their book bag each day. It’s important that my kids have access to clean, filtered water whenever they might need it. The water bottle also helps them avoid those icky school water fountains that breed all kinds of nasty germs.
Amanda Hearn, The Eco-Friendly Family
My favorite make-school-mornings-not-suck-while-keeping-my-kids-healthy tip is to invest in a Planetbox. I absolutely adore them for durability and style but any quality compartmentalized lunch box can do. I’ve used them for about five years now. I lay our three out like lunch trays and load them up each morning with a fruit, veggie, cheese stick or yogurt, and some sort of crunchy goodness (pretzels, crackers, etc.). It makes packing three lunches a breeze (even easier if I prep on Sundays by pre-chopping for the week) and I feel good knowing that the kids are eating something that I put together with love. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true.
Adrienne Urban, Owner, Whole New Mom
Adrienne is a writer, researcher, is whole food an healthy minded, and a real mom. She shares her knowledge about health topics, nontoxic living, and frugal, sustainable living to help moms like us!
If you can send your kids with a packed lunch, you can help give them a healthy meal free of as many toxins as possible. Read labels to avoid artificial colors and preservatives as well as GMOs, and shop for as many raw ingredients as possible. Leftovers and salads in a jar make great lunches! And make sure not to forget about what your kids will drink! Send them to school with a bottle of filtered water–but not just water from a pitcher-type filter. You want a filter that removes fluoride as that is one of the most prevalent toxins in most public water systems.
Courtney Charles, “The Alkaline Mom”
Courtney blogs at Alabaster Living about living frugally and detoxing your life while eating a healthy alkaline diet.
The cornerstone of our approach is eating alkaline – tons of raw veggies, healthy green shakes, and staying on the alkaline or transitional side of the food chart. This means packing a healthy lunch is essential, in addition to teaching our kids the value of healthy, holistic living and organic eating. If our kids don’t value eating healthy, they’ll trade out the good stuff for whatever processed food is appealing in the lunch room.
Another essential practice for my family to maintaining a life cold and flu-free is to have a daily “health drink”. In it I add all of the supplements that I have found to keep our immune systems rock-solid! It includes essential virus-fighters, detox powerhouses to remove bacteria and toxins, and alkalizing agents that boost immunity. To get the full recipe and instructions click: health drink.
Catherine McCord, Founder, Weelicious
Weelicious is a healthy recipe blog and One Potato, the first organic home meal delivery kit service focused specifically on the dinnertime needs of families. She is also the author of 2 cookbooks, “Weelicious: One Family. One Meal” and “Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunchbox.”
Why fill your kids up when they go back to school with processed cereals, breads and other breakfast foods when they need whole foods most to fire up their bodies and brains? Print out the smoothie project sheet and let them create nutritious, whole food drinks that will fill them up with nutritious foods to start their day off right.
Ashley Covelli, Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen
Ashley is a food writer, recipe developer, and photographer. Her blog, Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen, began its life in August 2006 as her creative outlet after a long day at the office. Her work has been featured on Foodgawker, Tastespotting, Huffington Post Taste, Sweet Dreams Magazine, FeedFeed, and Foodista.
One of my favorite ways to get my son to enjoy healthier items in his lunchbox is to send an assortment of different items for him to make his own “tacos”. I send in little mini soft taco shells or scoop-style tortilla chips and a few containers of chopped/sliced ingredients such as hard boiled egg, cheese, bell peppers, sunflower seeds, corn, ham or salami. Since he has control over the assembly and what goes into each bite, he’s more excited about eating it. And since I select the ingredients, I know exactly what’s going into his lunch.
Amelia Winslow, Eating Made Easy
Amelia is a a nutritionist, chef and mom who believes healthy eating should be simple and enjoyable, not stressful or overwhelming. She started Eating Made Easy to help busy people have a go-to source for reliable information that can be quickly read and put into practice.
1. Pack food in stainless steel containers, or glass if your child is older or capable of handling something fragile. If food will be heated in the microwave at school, packing it in glass is essential for preventing plastic leaching.2. Invest in a reusable Bento box or reusable food storage containers, so your child’s lunch doesn’t generate excess trash. PlanetBox is my favorite, and while they are expensive, they last forever so over time you will save money compared to buying Ziploc bags or pre-packaged foods.3. Buy organic meat and dairy products. Though these are sometimes significantly more expensive, they help reduce your child’s exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, and artificial growth hormones – all things that can negatively impact children’s health over time. For great deals on organic food, head to Trader Joe’s, 365 markets, and Grocery Outlet.
Maybelline Valenti, Naturalmente Mama
Naturalmente Mama is a Spanish language website for natural moms. She is Venezuelan, a working mom and a real food lover, and creator of
My number one tip for a non-toxic lunch bag is actually packing a “no waste lunch” meaning all the food is packed in reusable containers, including the drink, That way everything you send to school does not end up in landfills and you get to control exposure to toxins by choosing the material of containers and utensils. You can even go as far as sending reusable napkins!
Kris Bordessa, Attainable Sustainable
Kris has been a freelance writer for more than a dozen years. She started Attainable Sustainable to answer the question: What if we could tackle one little actionable step each day to start working toward a more self-reliant lifestyle?
Instead of using plastic wrap or plastic bags to package snacks, consider reusable beeswax wraps. You’ll avoid the toxins in the plastic, plus it prevents a lot of plastic ending up in the landfill. You can buy them or try your hand at making your own. Here’s how!
Trina O’Boyle, O’Boy Organic
By making healthy snacks for your kids such as fruit leather, muffins or granola bars you are saving a ton of money and giving your child the healthiest foods possible. I love to make big batches and freeze them.However, if you don’t have time to make everything homemade make sure you read the labels so the foods you purchase don’t have added sugars, artificial ingredients or contain high fructose corn syrup. Here is a great check list that will help you keep everything straight when shopping. Read more of Trina’s healthy back to school tips!
Joy McCarthy, Founder, Joyous Health
Joy is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and best-selling author. A trusted nutrition expert, Joy has been featured in hundreds of publications both online and in print; and is a regular health expert on TV. Joy has created numerous online programs and eBooks under JOYOUS U and is a faculty member at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition.
1. Snack Shelf in your fridge and pantry.One of my favorite tips is to create a healthy snack shelf in both the fridge and pantry. Kids are often starving when they come home from school and will eat anything — they are usually carbohydrate monsters and will want chips, crackers and cookies because it converts to glucose so quickly in the bloodstream which is what their body craves. However, this can result in cranky and unsatisfied kids. Of course, not all carbs are bad so I suggest to stock your fridge with cut up crunchy veggies and some sort of healthy dip like hummus, fresh fruit, organic dairy like yogurt or cheese (note: NOT cheese strings haha) healthy baked goods like homemade muffins or cookies. In the pantry, trail mix, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, kale chips or beet chips. There are a lot of really delicious veggie chips now.2. Create a family meal plan. (And literally tape it to the fridge!)A weekly meal plan is the best thing busy families can do to ensure you have healthy and delicious food for your family. Decide on the weekend what are the 5 weeknight meals you’ll have and then grocery shop according to this list. You may want to consider ordering food from an online grocer or have a weekly organics produce delivery to make things easier. If you have the budget, there are companies you can order meals from and they deliver all the ingredients for 5 weeknight meals based on the # of people you’re feeding and all you have to do is assemble the meal — easy peasy!
Sommer Poquette, Green and Clean Mom Blog
Back to school means germs but that does not mean you have to fight them with toxic products!
1. Choose alternative cleaning wipes to donate to the classroom. I personally like the Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Wipes. I buy them in bulk on Amazon.com.
2. Most teachers request hand sanitizer and my favorite natural hand sanitizer is CleanWell. I’ve been using it with my kids for years! They offer sprays and wipes.
Hopefully, these healthy back to school tips will give you great ideas and inspire you to get start your family on the road to greener, cleaner living! But as Sommer also says, “Whatever you do, do not stress. Just do your best, which is all you can do.”
Amen to that!
What other healthy back to school tips do you have to share with moms who are just starting to go green?