After a summer of outdoor fun and quality time spent in the fresh air, it’s time to send children back into the classroom. It is a known fact that indoor air quality suffers when classrooms are cleaned with traditional, chemical-laden, cleaning products. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 10% of our school populations may be exposed to polluted indoor air, chemical fumes, pesticides, molds and other toxins. So what’s a parent to do?
Here are some ideas of ways to get greener cleaners into your child’s school and classroom:
- Run a green cleaner drive and/or collection.
- Ask teachers if they can put natural or green cleaners on their supply list.
- Contact PTA or your school’s Green Team to get the word out about toxic cleaners and better alternatives. No, Green Team in your child’s school? Create one!
- Talk to your school’s custodial team about green cleaners and different viable solutions for your school. This may take you supplying different green cleaners for them to test out.
Looking for some great suggestions for what to send into your child’s classroom?
Janelle Sorensen, children’s environmental health advocate, suggests products from The Honest Company, Method, Seventh Generation, and, of course, baking soda, vinegar and water. There is very little water, vinegar and baking soda can’t do for cleaning up any mess!
“For all of these things, I’d consult Green Seal which is a third-party organization that tests and certifies products,” says Sorensen. “It’s recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, so teachers can feel confident that not only are their product recommendations green and safe, they’re also approved for the unique needs of a school setting.”
Also, it may be beneficial for you to provide a simple thing that can improve air quality in any classroom: plants!
Here are five plants that are proven to improve indoor air quality:
- Purple Waffle Plant
- English Ivy
- Variegated Wax Plant
- Asparagus Fern
- Purple Heart Plant
It may be tough to get your school to use the greener, cleaning products. It’s not that the school’s employees want to create a toxic environment but they are typically overworked, underpaid and trying to do the best they can with the resources they are given. Addressing your concerns and providing solutions, without pointing fingers, is the best way to create a positive change. “Patience, persistence, and positivity are key,” says Sorensen.
Looking for inspiration? Here are some resources that can assist you in implementing change in your schools to make the learning environment cleaner and greener:
This article by Elise Jones appears in our Back to School 2013 issue and was featured in the Back to School Blog Carnival by RetroHousewifeGoesGreen.
Elise Jones is a writer and social media consultant who is also lucky to call herself wife and mom too. She writes on green parenting, home design and life’s adventures. All of her work can be found at Elise Jones Consulting.