As the father of a five-year-old the calendar is no longer divided by the twelve months or the four seasons but rather into two segments: school and camp. With the school year winding down, the past few weeks have been a flurry of registration for various sports, arts and outdoor activities to keep my little guy busy with each camp providing a list of articles to pack when we send him off. In addition to the usual items like trip t-shirts and bathing suits are a number of items that provide the opportunity to green his summer.
While the importance of slathering on sunscreen (even on cloudy days) cannot be overstated, protecting your child from UV rays need not expose them to other risks. Avoid products with preservatives such as parabens, which have been linked to cancer or petroleum-based emollients such as mineral oils. Look instead for products with milder preservatives like potassium sorbate and which contain natural softeners such as sunflower oil, jojoba oil and shea butter.
The active ingredient in most insect repellents is N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, commonly known as DEET. Identified as a contributor to seizures in a small percentage of the population, exposure to DEET may also cause skin irritation, moodiness, impaired cognitive function and insomnia. Non-toxic alternatives to DEET include eucalyptus and citronella oils, both of which have been documented to be effective in repelling insects, particularly mosquitoes.
Keeping hydrated while active in the sun is critical for fun at camp. Instead of sending water and juices in disposable containers that add to waste or plastic bottles which may contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a potentially toxic additive found in many plastics, make use of an aluminum, or better yet, stainless steel bottle to reduce both what ends up in the trash and the amount of toxins in your child’s body.
For those with older children, overnight camps offer even more opportunities to be environmentally responsible, whether it be through biodegradable toiletries that lessen their impact on the lake, organic towels and wash cloths or recycled stationary your kids can use to keep in touch. Summer always seems to go by so quickly, make sure your kids get the most out of their camp experience by keeping them green!