Ask Pam: Create chemical-free classrooms
I’ve been procrastinating — but it’s mid-August, and I can’t put off back-to-school shopping any longer.
Each summer, my kids’ schools send home a long list of what they’ll need for the year ahead. In addition to paper, pencils and PE gear, it always includes classroom clean-up supplies. I am never happy when I see the chemicals the schools want us to bring into the classroom, and I actually cringe when invariably, every single year, hand sanitizers and bleach wipes make the list.
I don’t want my, or anyone else’s, children to be exposed to harmful chemicals, especially not when I know there’s a better way!
Often, I start out the school year by gently introducing my children’s teachers to the benefits of Norwex, helping them to understand that with only water, and NO bleach, our microfibers are able to quickly and easily get rid of 99 percent of bacteria on classroom surfaces. In my experience, teachers are really receptive to ideas that are about the health and wellbeing of their students. They also care about the environment and are happy if by making a change in their classroom, they can reduce the amount of waste created by paper towels and disposable wipes.
Your alternative back-to-school kit
Of course, it’s challenging to go against the flow by refusing to bring in hand sanitizers and bleach wipes, or paper towels, for that matter. You may consider packing an alternative back-to-school kit with Norwex products for your child, and explaining each item to the teacher.
Here are some suggestions for your child’s customized back-to-school kit:
Travel Pack— Just like the full-size EnviroCloth, the Travel Pack’s smaller version cleans safely, quickly and thoroughly to save time, money and the environment using only water! Kids can use it to safely and easily clean desks or any other surface. The Kids EnviroCloth also is a smaller version of the EnviroCloth and is available in bright, kid-friendly blue.
Body Pack — The Body Cloths can be used wet or dry to clean skin gently or thoroughly. It’s perfect for grubby hands! For the younger kids consider the Baby Body Pack which provides the same benefits but is a great size for little hands.
Reusable Wet Wipes Bag — Convenient, cost-effective and eco-friendly, this water-resistant, two-pocket bag is your reusable, on-the-go solution to carry personal use Norwex Microfiber Cloths, dry or wet, any time, anywhere.
Optic Scarf — With an assortment of pleasing desing options, the Optic scarf is great for polishing not only glasses, but laptop, tablet and smart phone screens.
Timeless Natural Hand Cleaner – Consider packing the travel-size tube of this convenient, moisturizing, natural hand sanitizing cream. Organic lemon, rosemary and lavender extracts have natural astringent qualities to thoroughly clean hands. Organic aloe vera, olive oil and gluten-free wheat germ oil extract help hydrate, nourish and condition the skin.
Micro Cleaning Hand Pad – This is a great additional tool for stubborn cleaning problems like crayon, marker and scuff marks.
Sportzyme — This is a must for teen lockers, especially when you have athletes with sports shoes and equipment bags. Sportzyme’s special bioactive formula contains dormant, nonpathogenic, fast-acting microbes and enzymes that break down and eliminate organic residues that cause odors.
There are so many great Norwex products that could be used to build the best school kit for your child. I have shared other ideas about how to help kids develop healthy cleaning habits at home and school. I also invite you to check out my online shop for more ideas, and to contact me with questions.
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I have more and more friends who are buying into the Norwex line of cleaning products. And, I get it, most of the items they sell (especially the EnviroCloth) are pretty great. That’s because Norwex manufactures their own line of microfiber cleaning cloths that are on-pace with commercial standards. My Norwex friends want to use their cloths everywhere. And a hot topic among them — how can we get Norwex in schools?
Well, not so fast, my friends.
Let’s start with the Norwex global mission:
“Improving quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes.”
Hmm, did you catch that? Norwex specifically markets their products for home use. While some of their products may be made to commercial standards, they are not commercial cleaning products. They have not been tested for commercial use and do not follow the same set of rules. And what folks don’t seem to realize, classrooms are not an extension of our homes.
We’ll just go in to a few reasons why Norwex in schools creates a problem:
Safety Data Sheets
Here in Ohio, schools are required by the Ohio Department of Health to have copies of Safety Data Sheets (SDS) available for chemical products used in the buildings.
- Norwex is marketed for household use so they do not have to make their Safety Data Sheets public – and they don’t; not even for consultants.
- Because Norwex will not release their SDS for microfiber and it contains micro-silver (a potential allergen), its use poses a risk in public school buildings.
- Some teachers currently use their personal Norwex supply to clean their classrooms – this puts great risk (and liability) on the teachers themselves.
- Due to the increasing population of students and staff with asthma and allergies, schools are becoming more cautious with products used in their buildings.
- Staff members are often discouraged (and sometimes prohibited) from bringing their own cleaning products to school.
Norwex is a direct sales business – your friend hosts a party and a consultant shares the products. I was invited to a party and afterwards was very curious to try the products out for myself. I bought 3 microfiber items and spent almost $60. These items are EXPENSIVE. Great, but expensive. So, while you may be able to get some freebies from hosting a party or joining as a consultant, this type of business model is not geared towards schools.
- Norwex microfiber is not available wholesale. Most schools operate on a very tight budget and purchasing microfiber at approximately $18 per cloth is not feasible or even fiscally responsible.
- Commercial microfiber is inherently antimicrobial, cleans well with just water, and performs comparably well to Norwex. Quality microfiber cloths can be purchased wholesale for approximately $1 per cloth (price varies by manufacturer).
Sorry, Norwex mama. I know that information doesn’t go over well. I like to describe it like this – Norwex microfiber is the Cadillac of cleaning cloths. Luxury features are nice, but a Chevy will also get you where you need to go.
This is big, friends. Consultants and party hosts love to taut the warranty from Norwex. And that’s great, except for when there isn’t one.
- Norwex corporate voids the warranty if their products are used commercially (public school classrooms are considered commercial applications).
- In contrast, commercially available microfiber carries a warranty from the manufacturer and may also be backed by your cleaning supplier.
I feel like Norwex is saying, we’re really fine with just cleaning your house.
No worries, mamas!
Let’s look at the positives here. You already know and love to use microfiber cloths. And that’s great! Microfiber use in the classroom is recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency — check out their fact sheet here. So, while it may not be Norwex, please know a commercial microfiber paired with water, or an environmentally preferred chemical product, also makes an outstanding cleaning tool –asthma and allergy friendly, too!
One of my favorite microfiber cloths is available on Amazon. It’s a quality, commercial grade cloth, available in lots of colors and sizes, and at a school-friendly price, too!
If you’d like to learn more about microfiber, please check out my blog post Microfiber Cloth Mania.
Chemical-Free Classroom: A Back to School List for Teachers!
Did you know that not only will your students get smarter this year, but the bacteria in your classroom most likely will too?! When products claim they kill germs, there are still the “smart” bugs that they can’t kill. This bug continues to produce its resistant spawn, and eventually, the anti-bacterial products must upgrade their solutions to keep fighting the germs. According to the FDA, “There is some evidence that long-term exposure to some ingredients in antibacterial products, including triclosan, ‘could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects,'” (cnn.com). This is one of the reasons that Minnesota has banned triclosan; a law which will go in to effect this school year (January, 1, 2017). Instead of cleaning harder this year, clean smarter, with Norwex products! If superbugs can up their game, of course we can too! Here are a couple products I think should be staples in your classroom:
Enviro Cloth: This year, protect your classroom from the spread of illness without chemicals! Did you know the Norwex Enviro Cloth may remove up to 99% of bacteria with its superfine, super dense microfiber? Instead of killing most of the germs on the spot, the Enviro Cloth picks up everything in its path. While in the cloth, the microsilver creates a harsh environment where the bacteria cannot reproduce, so they die a natural death, without leaving their resistant spawn. Just in time for back to school, Norwex has upgraded this already awesome product. It is 14% more absorbent and can hold 7x its weight in liquid substances! Instead of always reaching for paper towels and an anti-bacterial chemical, grab an Enviro Cloth. Look in to your school’s standards and use an Enviro Cloth whenever you can!
Peppermint Foaming Hand Soap: Frequent hand washing is the best defense against illness so give the kids a soap they will want to use even more! Peppermint has natural awakening qualities so not only does it smell great, but might give your kids a boost in their alertness! Minnesotans, this soap does not contain triclosan, in addition to other harmful ingredients, so it is perfect in your classroom.
Cleaning Paste or Micro Cleaning Hand Pads: Kids can be tough on walls, white boards, and furniture. Instead of reaching for the strong stuff, use the Cleaning Paste or Micro Cleaning Hand Pads to remove unwanted marks. These solutions use enzymes instead of chemicals to break down just about anything your students could leave a mark with!
Teachers, not only can you prevent illness today, but you can choose products that do not affect your students’ long-term health negatively. You can make a difference in so many ways this year! I hope that using green and responsible products is one of those ways!
Contact me to learn more, or SHOP ONLINE to have products shipped direct to your door. If you are in the Minneapolis or St. Paul area, please contact me to discuss how you can pick up product direct and avoid shipping charges.
Thanks for stopping by!
Babies and Children, Uncategorized
by Suzanne HoltSours: https://littlegreencloth.com/2015/08/20/chemical-free-classroom-a-back-to-school-list-for-teachers/
The classroom in norwex
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