Green Your Child’s School Supplies

Child in the rain with water bottle

Does your child’s school give you a list of supplies for the first day of school? We can help you choose non-toxic, low-impact school and lunch supplies—and the bag to carry them in.

If you are working to avoid toxics at home, the last thing you want to do it give your child a bag full of toxic supplies to spend the day with at school. We have carefully built up our supply of school essentials with the lowest impact products we can find from ethical companies. Our children use these same products.

Kids Green Lunch Supplies

Our goal is to get good, healthy food to school safely without leaving a wad of garbage to throw away at the end of lunch hour. Waste-free lunch adds up.

Lunchbots Bento Box
Lunchbots Bento Lunch Box

We have a big selection of lunch bags and boxes. One of my favorites is the Lunchbots Bento Lunch Box. I like that it is stainless steel, and I don’t have to send partially plastic containers to school.

Sling Sisters Snack Bags

Reusable snack bags

For snacks and sandwiches, forget the plastic baggies. Sling Sisters reusable, zippered bags can be wiped out at the end of the day or tossed in the wash on cold.

Klean Kanteen Water Bottle
Kids Reusable Water BottleTo keep children from reaching for sugary drinks at school, we need to give them an easy alternative. A small, reusable water bottle is easy to carry around and to refill. The kid-sized bottle has a top that is easy to sip—without being a sippy cup.

Kids Green Classroom Supplies

Recycled Pencils
Recycled Newspaper Pencils

Kids go through a lot of pencils, so you want an option that is low impact without being terribly expensive. We like the Earthzone recycled pencils. They are tree-free, made with recycled newspaper. You can see the newsprint change as you sharpen the pencil. This will be a kid talking point as they figure out exactly how a newspaper was used to make a pencil.

Non-toxic Glue
Non-toxic school glue

Glue is one of those supplies that sneaks in some nasty plastic. It gets on the kids’ fingers; the fingers go in the mouth. You know how it goes. No worries with this glue. This is a safe, odorless, water-based adhesive that holds fast once dry but can easily be removed with water.

Natural Hand Sanitizer
Mint natural hand sanitizer

What do you do to clean up from all of those germy activities? Send your child to the restroom to use the synthetic hand sanitizer with Triclosan and Benzalkonium Chloride? No! This mixture of essential oils and natural materials gives your child a natural way to clean hands. It smells really nice, too.
Backpack

Dabbawalla Backpacks
Cute kids backpack Dabbawalla

To carry everything, you need a backpack that is easy to clean, because you know it is going to get dirty and sticky every single day. Dabbawalla backpacks and lunch bags are a favorite every year. Kids and parents love these cute bags. Dabbawalla backpacks can be machine washed. The material is insulated as well, so they will keep the cold lunch colder longer and the hot lunch hotter longer. Durable as well as adorable.

Clothing for UV Protection This Summer

UV Sun Protective Suit for Children

The best way to keep the sun’s UV rays away from your children’s skin is to cover their skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation calls clothing “Our first line of defense.” Dressing your children in clothing with a high UVF rating is a smart move when you go to the beach or the pool this summer.

A physical barrier to the sun gives better protection than a chemical barrier. We wrote about the importance of a physical barrier to UV rays in our review of natural sunscreens. Clothing can create a barrier without the mess of sunscreen. Clothing is a good option if you must be in the sun with a baby (since you shouldn’t use sunscreen on babies under 6 months old) or with a very fair-haired child (since lighter skin has less natural protection against sunburn).

There is a history of skin cancer in my family, so I am very cautious about sun exposure for my children and myself. Even in extreme heat, I wear long sleeves. It will be 90 degrees Fahrenheit today. I’m going to an outdoor event to hear my husband and son play in a bagpipe band. Based on experience, I’m guessing someone will ask, “Aren’t you hot in that long-sleeved shirt.” Don’t be deterred by those who second guess you when you cover yourself or your children. Fabric is the easiest, most effective way to avoid sunburn and the long-term damage caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.

How UV Protective Fabric Works

In much the same way that minerals in natural suncreen block or absorb UVA and UVB rays from the sun before they reach our skin, fabric can absorb or deflect sunlight. Think of how much light different curtains let in to your house. Fabric that prevents light prevents harmful rays.

What to Look for in Fabric

A tightly woven or knit fabric gives better protection because there is less room between the threads for sun to peek through. Darker fabrics with a lot of pigment give more protection. Because of its structure, polyester is the most effective lightweight fabric for sun protection, but heavier weight natural fabrics, like dark blue jeans, can block most of the sun’s rays. There are also chemical treatments that are added to some fabrics for extra UV protection. We prefer to avoid the chemical treatments and go with fabrics that provide protection through structure.

UPF Rating

Sunscreen has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating that tells you how effective a product is against UVB rays that cause sunburn. UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings are given to clothing as an indication of how effective a product is against UV rays of both kinds (UVA as well as UVB). UPF 50+ means that clothing has been tested to block 99% of UV rays. UPF 50+ is a rating of Excellent.

Sun Protective Swimwear for Children

Full Sun Protective Suit
UPF 50+
Size: 0-6 months through 10 years

UV Protection Sun Suit for Children

We carry sun protection suits (half-sleeve and half-leg) in sizes 0-6 months and up for babies through 10 years for children. This is the fastest way to cover large areas. 100% polyester. Comfortable, stretchy, chlorine resistant. Made in Canada from specialized Australian fabrics.

UV-Tee
UPF 50+
Size: 3-6 months to 18-24 months

Bummis UV swim wear

Bummis has a new line of sun protection clothing that coordinates with the prints of their popular Swimmi swim diapers. These T-shirts cover the shoulders, often the first spot to get burned at the pool. A separate top and bottom is a much quicker way to get out of the swim suit fast, which is very important when your child is potty training. Soft and durable. Chlorine resistant. Made in Canada from fabric made in Canada.

Tankini
UPF 50+
Size: 0-12 months or 12-24 months

Bummis Tankini swim top for babiesIf you aren’t necessarily looking for protection over the shoulders, the adorable Tankini swim top gives the same UPF protection of 50+ to the full torso. Halter clip is adjustable for a wide range of sizes. Use sunscreen for arms, faces, and ears. Made in Canada from fabric Made in Canada.

Sun Cap
UPF 50+
Size: 3-6 months to 18-24 months

 Swim hat made in Canada

Don’t forget to cover your child’s head. Bummis Sun Caps are made from the same prints as their Swimmis reusable swim diapers. Crown and visor have UPF rating of 50+. Coordinates with UV-Tee and Tankini swim tops. Made in Canada.

Should you go outside with your children? Definitely. All of us need to play in nature. Just be aware of the risk of sun exposure and mitigate that risk with UV protection through clothing and sunscreen.

Getting Started with Reusable Menstrual Products

Garbage from tampons wastes money

If you use cloth diapers for your babies and if you are looking for waste-free, reusable products in the rest of your life, it’s a natural next step to keep the change coming and use cloth menstrual pads or a diva cup. Getting started is easy.

The quickest way to start: borrow your baby’s diaper doublers and see how easy it is. Toss them in with the diapers, and wash.


What You Need to Start

If you don’t mind sharing diaper doublers with your baby, it really is easy to start.

Just be sure that you have

  1. something absorbent,
  2. somewhere to put them until you wash, and
  3. something to carry them in while you travel.

The simple solution includes items that can be borrowed from cloth diaper accessories or improvised from supplies you already have.

  1. wash cloths
  2. diaper pail
  3. small wet bag

The more advanced solution includes buying or making new supplies.

  1. specially made menstrual pads
  2. a bucket or soaking pot that can hold water
  3. a bag for your purse

Menstrual Pads. A lot of people want a leak-proof layer, but I just don’t find this necessary. It’s one more place for laminated (plastic-coated) fabric or micro-fiber that just isn’t necessary. All you need is absorbency. Natural materials work best, and anything absorbent will do. Our wool diaper doublers are just the right size for cloth pads. If you sew, you may find that some of your scraps are just the right size for cloth pads, which is a great way to divert more materials from waste.

Menstrual Cup. Rather than using an absorbent layer, you can use a cup instead of tampons. This is such an easy solution. The Diva Cup, for example, is medical-grade silicone—latex-free means no allergic reactions. It can be worn for up to 12 hours. I think it still helps to wear a light pad.

Natural Sponges. If you are used to tampons, you might find natural sponges a good alternative. You can even sew a string into them to help pull them out. You just rinse well, following instructions to be sure that they are clean, let them dry, and reuse.

Panty Liner. My favorite light pad or panty liner is a silk diaper liner. The liner is very thin, soft next to the skin, and just enough of a barrier.

Bucket or Pot. An ice bucket works really well. I have a pedal garbage can (with a removable liner) because I have a dog who is a thief. My favorite solution is one I don’t currently have: a ceramic pot that is actually made for cloth pads. I’ve seen some gorgeous ceramic pots, and I hope I own one before I don’t need it any longer.

Planet Wise Mini Wet Bag

Wet Bag. Any small wet bag will do. Many wet bags are made of nylon. I have used a wool bag as well, which is very absorbent and doesn’t leak through. My new favorite bag, though, is the Planet Wise mini wet/dry bag because it has two zippered pockets, one for dry and waterproof one for wet. This is a perfect size to fit in a purse.

Reusable menstrual products are an economical and environmentally-friendly choice. With cloth menstrual pads and menstrual cups you also enjoy safe, chemical-free protection. Once you give these a try, you’ll never go back to paper, plastic, and gel pads or bleached tampons again.

Pregnancy by Nature carries a full line of reusable menstrual products.


More Resources for Reusable Menstrual Products

Abdominal Support During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Support Band at bynature.ca

Once you add an extra 30lbs of weight right up front during pregnancy, your body needs extra support. Abdominal exercises can give you that support, and a pregnancy support band can give you more help when needed.

Ideally, exercises throughout your pregnancy will build your abdominal muscles to support the weight of your growing baby. It only takes a few minutes a day to tighten your abdominal muscles while you are sitting or standing. For a specific workout, consult an expert. You do need to avoid lying on your back after the first trimester, avoid certain exercises if you are experiencing diastasis, and be particularly careful if you are carrying multiples. Your trainer can help you assess your specific situation and suggest helpful exercises.

Your body was built to support your baby, but you need to work the muscles designed to do the job, and you may need to adjust your posture as your weight changes.

Whatever workout to decide on, you may still feel some lower back pain. Especially late in your pregnancy, when you are probably carrying an extra 25-35lbs, you might find that you need extra support to prevent back ache.

Abdominal support belts for pregnancy have become very popular. If you decide to use a support belt, use it sparingly—no more than a few hours a day. Your own muscles need to support your baby and all of the extra fluid you are carrying, and you use those same muscles that support you during pregnancy as you push your baby out during labor. The more efficiently all of the layers of your abdominal muscles work in both cases, the better.

When you choose a pregnancy support belt, make sure that it gives overall support without putting extra strain on your back.

Seamless Pregnancy Support Band

We carry the Pregnancy Support Band, a medical, seamless compression band that you slip into. When you wear this maternity band, you will feel immediate relief for lumbar and abdominal pain. The flexible fabric has tri-dimensional support zones for the most comfort, and it stretches to adapt to all shapes and sizes. And, the Pregnancy Support Band is Made in Canada.

Build your own body’s support system for your pregnancy then you will only need to rely on a belly band or maternity belt in exceptional cases. Be strong!


More resources for a well-supported pregnancy

Ready, Set, Push workout from Fit Pregnancy

“Back Pain During Pregnancy: 7 Tips for Relief,” Mayo Clinic

Reusable Lunch Bag Supplies

Mimi the Sardine Reusable Lunch Bag for Kids

Have you packed that first school lunch yet? Many schools now require a waste-free lunch. At bynature.ca we carry a variety of reusable supplies you can choose to replace the throwaway lunch bags and make your child’s lunch waste-free.


Reusable Lunch Bags & Boxes

Laptop Lunch bento boxes

Start with the bag or lunch box itself.

Replace paper bags with a bento box for cut up lunch in the tidy little boxes of the Laptop Lunches Bento System or freeform lunch of any shape in a colorful Mimi the Sardine bag?


Reusable Sandwich Containers

Stainless Steel sandwich container

Next, containers for the food. If you chose the Bento Box already, congratulations! You already have the box and the containers.

Replace baggies with Planet Wise Sandwich Bag with a window or put the sandwich in a stainless steel Lunchbot Uno.


Reusable Water Bottle

Clean Canteen reusable bottle

Then, the drink.

Replace a juice box or a canned drink with a stainless steel Klean Kanteen or a glass, flip-top bottle from Lifefactory?


Reusable Utensils

Reusable Bamboo Utensils

Finally, what utensils will your child use?

Replace plastic utensils with lightweight, reusable bamboo To-Go Ware or just send finger foods.

More on School Lunch and School Supplies