Antibacterial everything. Antibacterial dish soap, hand soap, body soap, lotion and the list keeps going. I just saw antibacterial spray for a key chain or a back pack. Yeah, it’s everywhere. Did you know, they even put it on sponges to kill germs, that’s why they’re a little wet when you open the package. Another reason to get yourself a Skoy cloth! Kill the germs so we don’t get some weird disease or shoot, a common cold! I can’t poke to much fun of this because I had a ton of the stuff at one time. When I taught, I bought the stuff in bulk and in all varieties. I’ve even seen schools and hospitals putting up hand sanitizer pumps! Even though there has been several reports that the stuff isn’t any more effective then soap and water.

What kills those germs? Triclosan and it is a pesticide. Makes sense because pesticides kill things. Did you know it is in over 140 different products? I didn’t know triclosan is in some toothpaste brands. Scary. What is even more scary, the idea that this pesticide is found in a mothers breast milk. The EPA has just done a preliminary report on Triclosan and it raises some red flags. I recommend visiting the Environmental Working Groups summary of the report and their recommendations. Healthy Child also wrote a great article with some resources and reports that I highly suggest reading.

I’m glad I haven’t been on the antibacterial bandwagon for a long time! It just makes me sad that schools, nursing homes, daycare’s and hospitals are. Many teachers are even requesting children bring ant bacterial products in for the classroom or their desks.  For the most part, everyone should have access to soap and warm water. If you teach children how to wash their hands correctly you will eliminate many germs that cause illness.  Desks and schools are dirty but teachers can help make the classroom healthier by having a cleaning routine that involve the children. Here are some of my tips for having a healthy school year the toxic way:

1. Clean desks and surfaces daily with a safe non-toxic cleaner. Have it be a classroom job and assign two children each day or week. They will enjoy it and best of all your classroom will stay clean and healthy.

2.  Don’t allow toxic products in the classroom. Declare you room a “green” zone. If you have to use a hand sanitzer or germ killer suggest any of the following for alternatives:

For My Kids

Clean Well Hand Sanitizer

EO Hand Sanitizer
Germ Off Wipes
3. Encourage and enforce regular hand washing. Even older children need to be reminded. Before lunch have all the children line up to wash hands. Use a safe non-toxic soap and be a role model for the children by being the first one to wash your hands. Yes, this takes time because they should wash and lather until at least the count of 10 Mississippi’s. It will be a healthy routine that will keep the children safer and in school verses ill and missing school.

4.  Send a note home to the parents about toxic chemicals, asthma and the risks.  This will help the parents understand where you are coming from.

5.  Use an air filter in your classroom and open the window daily for fresh air.  I suggest this in all classrooms because most are either older and have gross odors from old material or they are new and the new material is giving off fumes. We have one in our home and highly recommend it. I will buy one for each child when they enter school and have it follow them each year. It is costly but well worth it. The EPA says the environmental pollution is worse than outdoor pollution. I consider it an investment. You can always go to your PTA or have your parents donate towards the cost.