Back to School with Switch Natural

Sep 13, 2022

About Andrea

This week we’ve teamed up with Andrea, the founder of the Switch Natural App. Switch Natural is an app that makes it easy to identify harmful ingredients in personal care and home products. Just like the Trash Panda App does for food - but for things like makeup, shampoo, and cleaning supplies! 
When Andrea became pregnant with twins, she started scrutinizing the products she was using in her home to figure out if they were safe. Determined to eliminate any unnecessary health risks, she began tracking what ingredients were good or bad and why. Then, she realized that she was loving the truly clean products she was finding even more than my conventional ones! 
With the goal of making it easier for others to switch to safer products, she started the Switch Natural website and Switch Natural app, where you will find her research, experience, and favorite natural products, making it easy for you to switch to the good stuff. She only recommends products that she loves— and she hopes you love them too!
Read on for Andrea’s favorite clean options for back to school, plus some of our favorite #trashpandaapproved snacks to pack for school lunches.

Back to School

As we switch gears from summer, it’s a great time to replace school essentials for safer options. Food storage and hygiene are top of mind as these items are used daily by kids throughout the school year. Here are some tips Andrea recommends to clean up common school items:

Ditch Plastic Food Storage

Studies show plastic food storage can expose us to endocrine-disrupting bisphenol A (“BPA”). BPA leaches into the food and drinks from plastic containers and enters the bloodstream. Effects of BPA range from DNA damage at low doses, to destroying cells at high doses. Animal and in-vitro studies show an association between BPA exposure and breast cancer, and it is considered a class 2 reproductive toxin.
BPS and BPF were introduced as alternatives to BPA, but unfortunately they are not safe either. While BPS and BPF have stability against high temperatures and are resistant to sunlight, their estrogenic effects are equal to or greater than BPA’s.
Safer food storage options include glass, stainless steel, and silicone.

Safer Food Storage Options

Storage Bags

Instead of plastic ziploc bags, try silicone bags like Stasher. These come in a wide range of sizes and are dishwasher safe. Wash silicone bags upside down on the top rack of the dishwasher.

Lunchboxes and Snack Containers

For lunch and snack containers, opt for stainless steel that is durable and won’t crack or shatter in backpacks. LunchBots containers come in many sizes (with or without compartments) and a detached, easy to snap-on top. Planetbox makes wonderful stainless steel boxes that are designed like a lunch tray. The trays come in multiple sizes and have an attached lid that is easy for kids to open and close. Planetbox sells accessories including leakproof inserts, cool packs, carrying bags, magnetic utensils, and water bottles.

Water Bottles

Avoid plastic water bottles and opt for stainless steel. A good option for young kids is the Yeti Rambler Junior because it’s easy for kids to open and close on their own, and it has a carrying handle. Unlike many other stainless steel water bottles, Rambler Juniors are dishwasher safe and come with an extra straw.  

Non-Toxic Hand Hygiene

At school, kids are washing hands and using hand sanitizer frequently throughout the day. Opt for alcohol based hand sanitizers without added fragrances. The CDC recommends hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Look for a clear liquid without artificial dyes. You’ll also want to avoid those with fragrance, parfum or aroma listed on in the label. (Read more about why you want to avoid fragrance here).  Avoid any sanitizers that contain triclosan, triclocarban, benzethonium chloride (BEC), and chloroxylenol. (To learn more about hand sanitizers, check out this post).
Two safer, gentler hand sanitizers are Dr. Bronner’s peppermint and EO Products lavender. These two are great options because they do not have a strong alcohol smell and are not overly drying. Hand soaps in schools can be harsh on skin especially with frequent use. Consider packing small foam pump bottles with your own soap in kids’ backpacks, like these from Branch Basics which are sold separately or in the Branch Basics Travel Set.

Trash Panda Approved Back to School Snacks

Need ideas for what to pack in your new, toxic-free containers? We’ve got you covered! Here are some easy grab-and-go snack ideas to add to a healthy lunch:

Chomps Original Beef Chomplings

These Chomps mini Chomplings contain grass-fed and finished beef sustainably sourced from Cape Grim Beef, Tasmania, Australia, so you can feel good about what your kids are eating! Find them here.

YES Bar Dark Chocolate Chip Snack Bar

We love our friends at YES Bar because their bars are free of GMOs, gluten, grains, dairy, corn, soy, eggs & peanuts: meaning YES Bars are sure to be a hit despite any food allergies your kids may have. Their variety of flavors are delicious, plant-based, paleo, and vegan. Shop these and many other flavors on Amazon.

Poppilu Original Lemonade

These Poppilu Lemonades are a great swap for conventional juice boxes. Not only are they organic, low in sugar and made with simple ingredients, but they also taste amazing! These are a big hit among kids and a perfect treat to take with them to school! Purchase a pack.

GoGo Squeez Organic Applesauce

These Organic GoGo Squeez pouches are not only packed with organic fruit, but they also make it super easy for your kids to take on the go! The delicious blend of apples makes all the kids happy! Shop on Amazon.

Annie's Whole Wheat Bunnies

Just like everyone else, we love Annie’s. Their organic whole wheat bunnies are a great swap for Goldfish, and the short ingredients list makes this snack perfect for your kids’ lunch boxes! Find them at your local Walmart.

Lesser Evil Pink Himalayan Sea Salt Paleo Puffs

Lesser Evil seems to never miss - their products boast real ingredients and taste just as great. These Paleo Puffs are made with organic cassava flour and coconut oil and are the perfect snack to keep your kids happy! Check out Lesser Evil.
The best way to stay healthy all school year? Check those ingredients with Trash Panda and the Switch Natural App!
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