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Buy pencils, regular and coloured. Wooden pencils come from a renewable resource, can be erased (thus saving paper), and don’t contain the toxic chemicals found in most art markers and inks.

Buy refillable pens. These not only save resources and cut down on waste, they save money.

Buy notebooks and other paper supplies made of recycled paper. Recycled paper items for the student set are easier to find and more fashion-conscious than even five years ago. Can’t find what you need? Visit the shops near your child’s school and request that they stock recycled paper products.

Buy plain, old-fashioned, wax-based crayons. Avoid artist’s pastels, since some contain asbestos, and scented oil-based crayons, which can be a hazard to very young children who may be tempted to eat them.

Buy white school glue or paste. Expoxy or instant-bonding glues rely heavily on petroleum resources and can also bond dangerously quickly to fingers and eyes.

When choosing a back-to-school wardrobe, support companies offering organic cotton and hemp clothing. Organic clothing does not contain toxic pesticides, which is better for our kids and our planet (conventional cotton cultivation accounts for 25 per cent of pesticide consumption worldwide).

Get your school recycling. Speak up at a parent’s meeting to encourage the purchase of recycled products by the administration and establish a school wide recycling programme. This will save school funds for other uses.

Make your school a toxin-free zone. Ask the school board to change to non-toxic cleaners and avoid the use of toxic pesticides indoors. These will improve air quality and reduce health risks and allergies.


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