back to school

My son started Kindergarten yesterday and yes I cried. Except this post isn’t about my motherhood emotions (I have them) but rather how those of you that are concerned about toxins, healthy schools and protecting your children within moderation without going nutso or being too overprotected can handle this school year. It seems overwhelming and scary but we cannot keep our children under our wings forever and no matter what there are toxins in our world and our children will eat hot dogs with nitrates in them at birthday parties and cotton candy with fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring AND they will be okay but yes we have legitimate concerns and our kids don’t do this stuff everyday so what do you do as they spread their wings and move on from you?

Here’s a message I received from a friend of mine:

“I’ve been thinking about you as I navigate the issue of chemicals in my daughter’s classroom. My biggest gripe right now is that they have the children use Clorox wipes to wipe down their desks. I’ve been doing some research and I think my best defense is that the container says in bold print “Keep out of reach of children”. The teacher was fine when I asked if my daughter could use her own non-toxic wipes that I would supply. I’m also concerned about the fumes etc. Have you had any issues with your kids being in school yet? Other issues are antibacterial soap, hand santitizer, food full of GMOs, pesticides, partially hydrogenated oil, etc, routine spraying for bugs, lysol disenfecting spray, etc. AHHHHHHHHHhhhhh!”

My response to her that I have decided to share because I feel it is timely for all of us:

For the kids I pick my battles carefully because I will never win all of them right now. The day care uses diluted bleach because of the health department – I control the lunch, sunscreen, bug stuff. They do not use clorox wipes and I am not okay with the soap or hand sanitizer and pack my own CleanWell sanitizer for the kids. In addition, I created a huge list of alternatives as well as pesticide resources and options when they sprayed for wasps. I plant many seeds and let the teachers and providers know I am there to find alternatives or provide them with education and information when they are ready. Making myself accessible is the key.

For the public school that my son will started: they use a “greener” option for cleaning. All disinfectants are toxic, however, there are less toxic and safer options and our district does an okay job with this. My biggest concerns are a) the wipes b) hand sanitizer this year. I did not get a list but plan on offering to buy CleanWell for the room for the year – per principal approval. See: http://www.cleanwelltoday.com/ Other friends who have tried this in other states have been told no so be prepared.

I will yes send my own Shaklee or Method wipes and offer to provide these as well. Yes, a cost but I am not sure what else to do if I want to control the environment more. The other thing I am intending on doing is buying http://www.shaklee.net/sommer/product/55102 and having this travel with each child as they move classrooms. An investment in my opinion but no it is NOT cheap.

I’ve really taken a look at this issue and started to realize the kids are going to eat bad food when I am not around and that is okay because the majority of the time I am in control and they eat great! I pack them great lunches, waste free and for the most part no plastic. I chose pesticide free when possible and offer suggestions, ideas and alternatives to the teachers.

I plan on working hard on this for the years to come and hope there will be changes but with the H1N1 this fall will be a battle – I am sure!

I hope I helped.”

I think it is very important to remember that we as parents do have to advocate for our children but also not drive away those that are working very hard to provide a quality education for our children and that have our children’s best intention at heart.  I’ve said this over and over but we are not all at the same place when it comes to going green but I’ve learned almost all  people do care about kids and do not want to harm them – they just have a different education, prespective and come frome a different way of thinking but there is common ground so just pick your battles.

Why not? Great tips for free!

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