Here we are...August...the Back-to-School month. My oldest is starting Kindergarten this year so this is our first foray into school supply shopping. Though it's an emotional topic, I LOVE school supplies, and in between spontaneous bouts of crying, I've been thinking about how we can be more kind to the earth as we prepare for this milestone.
There are many websites devoted to this task, and we have found some creative solutions! Here are ten great products that can help your family go green as you go back to school this year!
1. Even backpacks, lunch boxes, and pencil cases can be green in a fun way that kids will love! Terracycleproducts upcycles old drink pouches and potato chip bags to make kids' accessories! They are made from plastic that cannot be recycled, so these products are taking waste out of landfills. The designs are fun and fresh!
2. Environmentally friendly glue is commonly available from retailers such as Office Depot, the plant-based counterpart to the classic Elmer's glue we all know and love.
3. The easiest way to go green with writing utensils is to eliminate plastic and mediums that may have harmful chemicals. One of the more unique products provides a perfect example of this. "Dry highlighters", which are wood pencils with a neon yellow core that have no plastic or ink at all, and they will never dry out or bleed through pages like normal highlighters do. They can be found at stubbypencilstudio.com, a site that can unite environmental awareness with a child's creative work.
4. When it comes to pencils, the options are endless. Many common retail stores sell eco-friendly pencils that are made from recycled material such as newspaper. Theonline TreeSmart storesells a variety of pencils and colored pencils of this kind for reasonable prices.
5. Crayons are not left out of the eco-friendly availability. Biodegradable crayons made from soy are available from the Dixon Ticonderoga company, and ontheultimategreenstore.com.
6. Ideas for eco-friendly pens range from wood finish to recycled plastic. Popular pen brands such as Papermate and Pilot produce pens that are made from over 80% recycled plastic. Other pens are made mostly out of wood, which is, of course, biodegradable and does not involve the production of plastic.
7. Many eco-friendly notebooks are made of recycled paper, but others are made with even more sustainable materials, such as banana leaves. Using these materials does not require companies to cut down trees at all. These notebooks from EcoPaper have cool covers and save the earth too!
8. Vinyl is a harmful material because not only does it end up in landfills, but its production creates pollution also. These binders, available on amazon.com, are made of 100% recycled material and are a practical alternative to typical vinyl binders. (Whenever you're shopping Amazon, be sure you use AmazonSmile; a portion of your purchase will be donated to The Conservation Foundation! Just go to smile.amazon.com/ch/23-7221206. It's the same Amazon you know and love, and you'll be supporting our work to save local nature.)
9. Erasers can be made of recycled material too! Green Apple School Supply offers affordable pencil erasers made of recycled rubber. They are available on theultimategreenstore.com and can be purchased individually.
10. Finally, one of the easiest and most efficient ways to go green this school year is to reuse! Old school supplies can be re-purposed to not only save time and money, but also keep them from ending up in a landfill. Collecting paper from old notebooks and rebinding them can be a great project and a fun way to personalize your supplies. Melting old crayons in the oven to make new ones is good example of reuse. Cover old binders that are falling apart with colorful duck tape! With a little creativity, your school supplies can go a long way.
Wishing you a year of great learning and great fun!
Many, many thanks to volunteer Erica Dix for the great research and writing she put into this article!!