What I love most about back-to-school shopping is slipping some new green office supplies and lunch totables for myself into the cart. American families are expected to spend about $68 billion on back-to-school shopping this year, so green choices can help stimulate marketplace change. You’ll find lots of planet-friendly, personally healthier products below, plus ideas for lightening the impact on your wallet.
* “Shop” your closets and bins. Make it a treasure hunt for the kids, giving reward points applicable to new stuff on their wish list. Still-good pencils with worn-down erasers can be renewed with fun eraser caps such as IWAKO’s PVC-free dolphins and monkeys* .Sell old books at cash4books.
*Buy textbooks second-hand. Ask about used book sales at your school or library, or compare prices for titles at Bookfinder.com.
*Drive less. Sparing your car just 10 miles per week can cut your CO2 emissions by 340 pounds per year.Walk, bike, take public transport, combine shopping errands into one trip, and carpool to local stores.
*Roll orders into one. Order green supplies with other families in your neighborhood and have it sent in one shipment to one address.
Pencils and Pens
Pilot’s BeGreen pens are made with 89% PCR recycled plastic bottles, with recycled ink, and refillable.
Earth Zone pencils, which come with a recycled metal sharpener, Greenciles /,in 60 percent PCR packaging, and O’Bon’s wildlife-pattern pencils pencils are all made from recycled newspapers, not wood fresh from trees.
For least toxic, VOC-free art supplies, markers and glues, choose water-based, washable items and look for the Arts & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) seal. You’ll find it on Faber-Castelli Watercolor EcoPencils made from reforested wood.
Crayons and water-soluble glue made with soy wax, minerals and plant pigments are at Kidzone. And a reader recommends synthetic-free Clementine markers.
Choose products with the highest percentage of post-consumer-recycled (PCR) content you can find. On paper goods, look for Forest Stewardship Council or Rainforest Alliance Certified seals, availabe at Staples and other office stores.
Look for tree-free papers, such as New Leaf’s Farm Fiber Collection. Their 100% PCR banana paper is gorgeous
To hold green paper, Earthbinders are made from 96 percent post-consumer content.
One-stop-shops for recycled paper products, binders, staples, clips, pencils and pens:
The Ultimate Green Store
Staples Eco-Easy directory
Home Depot’s Green Pages
Backpacks: PVC-free, recycled fabric
Chico Bags’ RePete daypack is made from recycled plastics and aluminum.
Ecogear Palila backpack made from RPET (recycled soda bottles), as well as hemp and recycled
cotton ones, can be found at Pristine Planet.
Lunch and drink containers without BPA, Lead and Phthalates
Reuseit.com,includes a 16-oz. Thermos King insulated stainless food jar with spoon; also, organic cotton cloth or mesh sandwich/snack bags and cleanable wrapping mats.
Go Green Lunchbox kits come with a BPA-free covered bento tray, a stainless drink bottle that fits inside, a white board inside the lid for notes to your child, and an insulated, PVC-free bag to carry it all.
Our reader also highly recommends the nontoxic bento boxes, insulated covers and stainless food jars at Laptop Lunches.
For more products, see my lists of BPA-free food containers and drink bottles. For green, healthy product and action tips in every category of daily life, please heck out my home page, GreenerPenny.com, and my green living book, Do One Green Thing!
Thanks all of you for your input and suggestions--just add below to Comment section of this blog!
*Younger Sibling Safety Alert: Erasers, staples, paper clips and other small items are choking risks and should be kept out of the reach of children younger than three.