When I was a kid, I used to love going back-to-school shopping. I would color-code my binders and notebooks, sharpen my pencils and line up glue sticks on my desk. I'll admit I was a bit of a nerd; my seriously stocked backpack was definitely indicative of my love for school.
In retrospect, I realize that all of the plastic wares I so much enjoyed—pencil holders, folders, markers, pens—ended up in a landfill. I definitely could have lived with less!
Fortunately though, it's not too late to change my ways, especially when my son starts going to school.
In the era of "green," there are lots of options for finding more sustainable, well-sourced back-to-school products.
According to the Green Schools Initiative, Americans use 14 billion pencils each year. And about 31.5 million tons of printing and writing paper is used in the U.S. each year, or about 660 pounds per person annually.
Considering all of the trees and energy needed to manufacture so many pencils and pieces of paper, it makes sense to reduce our individual consumption and support better practices as much as possible.
While "green" products boast certain eco-friendly qualities, the absolute best way to help reduce one's environmental impact is to . Kids can reuse last year's binders and write on both sides of the paper and a good-quality backpack can last not just one year, but an entire decade or more!
To me, it's about balance: if you can re-use some old school supplies and supplement them with "green" products, those are both important and worthwhile choices.
Here are ten common back-to-school items that are non-toxic, recyclable and created with post-consumer content:
Ultimate Green Store
Free Shipping at $75.00
1. Recycled Highlighters - 4 pack
These highlighters boast non-toxic ink, and are made with recycled paper. They don't contain VOCs like xylene or toluene.
2. Banana Paper 2-Subject College Rule Notebook
Notebooks are 70-pages, and made with 80 percent post-consumer waste paper and 20 percent banana leaf fibers.
3. Soybean Blend Biodegradable Crayons - 64 count
4. Palila II Recycled PET Backpack
Backpacks are made from recycled water bottles.
5. Newsprint Eco-Friendly Recycled Newspaper Pencils - 10 pack
$5.60 10 Pack
O'BON pencils are made from 100 percent recycled newspaper and covered with a clear, non-toxic covering.
6. Bento 2.0 Lunch Box Set
Bento boxes make it easier to ensure your child is eating healthy at school. Three washable small containers are included with the lunch box.
Check out Jennifer McCann's books Vegan Lunch Box and Vegan Lunch Box Around the World for healthy recipe ideas.
Free shipping at $75.00
7. Westcott® 7" Kleenearth® Recycled Scissors
Scissors are made of 70 percent recycled content and 30 percent post-consumer content.
The Green Office
Free shipping at $49.00
8. 2" Rebinder
Made of 70 percent recycled and post-consumer corrogated cardboard. Front and back covers slide off for replacement.
9. Triggerwood Pen
Pens are made of 100 percent post-consumer content and contain non-toxic ink made without chlorine or VOCs. The pen is certified by Forest Stewardship Council.
10. Triggerwood Pen Refills
$1.99 each / $9.99 per dozen
Ink refills can help reduce the ordinary waste of a pen that doesn't work anymore.