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  1. Hi Irina,

    Great meeting you last night at the MOMAS meeting. I had no idea about backpacks… even though I noticed my son’s new backpack had quite a strong chemical odor when we bought it. I think I’ll look in to the Eco-Gear cotton alternatives.


    1. Irina Webb says:

      It was great meeting you too, Christie! Yes, unfortunately, backpacks are another thing to worry about. Currently, I have been looking into backpacks made of PET plastic bottles as cotton might not be always the most practical solution, especially for guys. I am looking to hear more from manufacturers on the subject of the manufacturing process. Christie, your subscription will help me out a lot. Thank you for your support!

  2. Nastia K. says:

    Cute backpacks! Wonderful news on all these chemicals-free! However, I still feel skeptical of ANYTHING that is produced in China. And these cute backpacks unfortunately ARE.

    1. Hi Nastia: Kudos to you for avoiding products made in China. What backpacks do you buy? ~Irina

      1. Nastia K. says:

        Hi Irina, judging by your reply I assume you took offense to my comment. I apologize if you did, although that was not my intent whatsoever. I didn’t say I completely avoid products made in China. It’s probably impossible nowadays unfortunately. I simply implied that even if the company uses the best practices of avoiding the harmful chemicals, we cannot be sure that the factory in China complies with it. There are so many documentaries showing it out bluntly. It’s just politics. And that is a sole reason why I mentioned my scepticism about products manufactured in China.
        As far as the backpacks are concerned, I so far haven’t had to look for backpacks for my older son yet as his school doesn’t require carrying supplies yet (he is going to be in second grade in Waldorf School)

        1. No, not at all! No offence is taken! I do my best to avoid products made in China but I also try to preserve some sanity too. I think lots of my blog readers subscribe to this attitude. However, in my e-book “7 Days to a Healthier Kitchen” (did you have a chance to read it?), I think managed to stay away from products made in China, may be with one exception that comes to my mind right now. 🙂 Thank you, Nastia, for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy by Valenti skin care and urthware cutting boards! I am always happy to hear from you! ~Irina

  3. Thanks again, Irina, for your informative and important post! How depressing that manufacturers choose to use materials that are harmful, I just don’t get it. Looking at the well known PB backpacks that so many kids seem to have (including my own) – I see they are made from “water resistant ABS” which I found out more about here –> Thoughts on ABS? It looks like it’s an alternative to PVC (?) but I don’t fully understand all the technical info / health implications. I presume not great or you would have mentioned this option in your blog…. Article states “ABS is stable to decomposition under normal use and polymer processing conditions with exposure to carcinogens well below workplace exposure limits” – and mentions ABS is used in numerous household products, including Legos! Appreciate any further insight you can share on this material.

    1. Hi Joy: could you send me a link to backpacks you are talking about? As for ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), there are different types of plastics and their safety is judged based how durable/stable they are. In other words, if plastic is least likely to break down and leach its components, which are often toxic, it is considered a safer type of plastic. As I described in the post, PVC is not stable. ABS is made mainly by combining acrylonitrile and styrene. Acrylonitrile is a suspected carcinogen and styrene is an anticipated carcinogen. While the components are far from harmless, there is no evidence that ABS breaks down and leaches them out, unlike polystyrene plastic or PVC do, for example. So the long story short, I would try avoid it, if possible, in the future. However, if you already own one it is okay to use. Does it make sense? ~Irina

  4. Hi, The last time I went backpack shopping I was looking for lead free options. Now a few years later I read all these posts about needing a PVC free backpack (our last one was too) but I’m not reading anything about lead free. Does PVC Free = Lead Free or not? Thanks

    1. Hi, there! Thank you for asking. I know all this is SO confusing. Normally, the reason backpacks may contain lead is that lead is one of the building blocks of PVC. So if a backpack is NOT made of PVC, most likely it won’t contain lead. Some manufacturers claim that their PVC backpacks do not contain lead; however, we as consumers are not told what is used instead (maybe another heavy metal). In other words, I recommend avoiding PVC all together. PVC is also toxic to manufacture and dispose as well. Does it help? ~Irina

  5. Hi Irina,
    Can you please tell me if Patagonia backpacks are a good option for my kids? You included The North Face backpacks, and they are similar companies in many respects (not all). We own many Patagonia items and we like their philosophies, so I am wondering if their kid backpacks are a good option. Thanks!

  6. Hi, another question – I typically don’t buy Pottery Barn kids or teen backpacks and lunch boxes because they haven’t been clear about whether or not they contain harmful substances. I just sent them an email, but have you dug any deeper into the contents of the backpacks and found any answers? Thanks much!

    1. Hi, Sonia: The main thing you can do is to avoid PVC; the rest is like icing on the cake. I don’t have customer service capabilities anymore. I worked for the first three years for free. Now I answer questions like this in private consultations or membership website. Thank you for understanding. Let me know if you are interested in learning more about my services. ~Irina

      1. Hi, no problem, thank you so much nonetheless. I have always found your web site very useful!!

  7. sasha zeldin says:

    I am curious if you like PlanetBox’s lunchboxes. (They’re stainless steel.)


  8. Hi Irina!

    I’m wondering if you have any recommendations on waterproof backpacks for kids? My daughter will be attending a public forest school this fall and must have a waterproof backpack, but so many waterproof children’s items are either made from PVC or coated in typical clothing waterproof barriers which tend to be endocrine disruptors and/or carcinogenic. Thanks!


  9. Elisabeth says:

    Hi Irina and Maria,

    Are you familiar with Maika Goods? It’s said their bags are made of vegan leather, recycled canvas and eco-friendly pigments…they’re also made in California which I know has one of the strictest guidelines regarding toxins.

    You listed North Face backpacks as an option but as another follower mentioned their items are more often than not made in China.

    Just wondering your thoughts.



    1. Maria Simmons says:

      Hi, Elizabeth! Thank you for the suggestion! We will consider looking into it!