With school coming to an end, and warmer weather fast approaching, there’s a good chance that many of you are starting to prepare your kids for summer camp! Many camps prove to be both an extremely rewarding and enjoyable time for children, and as parents, we want to ensure our young ones stay safe and healthy while away from home.
While most camps provide a “what to pack” checklist, they are usually very generic and leave it up to parents’ individual discretion on what exact items to bring. Unfortunately many of these recommended items found on store shelves can contain toxic chemicals that are not only bad for your health, but also for the environment. This article will serve as a roadmap to help you sort out the best, safest, and healthiest options for your family as you prepare your kids for a safe, enjoyable summer camp experience.
Let’s take a look at some typical summer essentials often used at camp, and how some can be safer, healthier options than others:
1) Sunscreen ~ Most of you are familiar with the big brand sunscreen names you see covering store shelves, but many of these products only protect from the sun with harsh chemicals linked to negative health effects. The toxins in these sunscreens include parabens (chemical preservatives), harsh solvents, alcohols, petroleum products, and fragrance chemicals that have been linked to cancer as well as other health concerns. For a more natural alternative, try safer sunscreens made with the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that provide strong sun protection with few health concerns.
2) Insect Repellent ~ This summer camp essential will help prevent your kids from coming home with itchy, annoying bug bites, but another thing to consider is the potentially toxic ingredients in some bug repellents. DEET and permethrin, the two most popular bug repellent chemicals have been linked to health concerns including rashes, headaches, and seizures. Permethrin, in particular, has been listed as a likely human carcinogen. Instead, natural botanicals make some of the best bug repellents, minus the nasty chemicals! The plant catnip has shown to be 10 times more repelling than its chemical counterpart, DEET, while rosemary, citronella, cinnamon, peppermint oil and lemongrass oil are also effective.
3) Water Bottles ~ Staying hydrated is important with temperatures rising, especially if kids are doing outdoor activities at camp. To avoid chemicals found in water bottles, say no to plastic water bottles (both disposable and reusable) which are bad for the environment and can contain toxic chemicals that end up in your drinks and bodies. Instead, opt for reusable glass water bottles or stainless steel water bottles that also come in insulated versions to help keep water cold throughout the day. There are many different sizes, varieties, and even colors for you and your kids to choose from for the perfect fit. And the best part: you can keep reusing it safely for the whole summer and into the school year!
4) Lunch Packing Materials ~ From the lunchbox to the utensils to even the napkins, many people are surprised to realize that even if the lunch is healthy, some packing materials are not. For instance, in many plastic products is a risk for exposure to BPA, phthalates and other chemicals which have been linked to health concerns. Known as EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals), they disturb hormones in the body and have been linked to issues such as infertility, susceptibility to breast and prostate cancer, and early onset of puberty. Not to mention that plastics take forever to break down and therefore remain as waste in our environment. Safer options include stainless steel, glass, bamboo, and organic cotton. Summer items including water bottles, back packs, lunch bags, snack and sandwich holders, utensils, and napkins can all be found in these safer, reusable materials.
5) Wet Bags ~ Of course I won’t cover everything in this post, but for another idea for safer camp essentials, consider a toxin free wet bag that is lead and PVC free. Wet bags can safely store wet and dirty items, swimwear, shoes, sweaty clothes, and more. Keep items safely separated from other belongings until you can get them home for cleaning.
6) Hand Sanitizer ~ It goes without saying that campsites (like anywhere with a lot of kids and potential germs flying around) are places where sickness can spread easily. Stay safe with all-natural, eco-friendly hand sanitizers that are alcohol-free, triclosan-free, and benzalkonium-free, as well as biodegradable.
And those are my tips for you! I hope this post has been helpful, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Wishing you a very wonderful, safe, happy and healthy summer with your family!
Dana Govern and her team at Wild Mint are committed to providing toxin-free and eco-friendly solutions to help families build a healthy lifestyle. You’ll find resources to learn about toxins, helpful guides, and healthy recipes at Wild Mint.