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Your Best Bet School Supplies

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Choose these school supplies and get an A+ in eco-responsibility!

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of fresh school supplies: an unblemished notebook, the smell of newly sharpened pencils, a school bag that’s ready to be filled. You can add to that excitement by knowing all those new supplies will have a minimal impact on the environment. Before you stock up for the semester, check out these sustainable products that will help you earn an A+ in eco-friendliness!


Paper: When choosing printer or lined paper, you have several options. You can seek out paper made of all or part recycled content, or you can find paper that is made of certified sustainably harvested wood. For recycled paper, look for the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content. Ecology Naturals is one option; it is 100 percent recycled, unbleached, and chlorine free. For paper made of certified sustainable wood, there are two major certifications: FSC and SFI. There has been some controversy surrounding the credibility of SFI certification, and generally FSC certification is favored by environmental activists. Regardless of the controversy, FSC or SFI certification is better than no certification at all.


Notebooks: As with loose paper, seek out notebooks that are made from responsibly sourced materials. For example, Sustainable Earth notebooks are made from sugarcane waste. The custom notebooks from Ecosystem are made using 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, and are manufactured and transported using the most efficient means possible. The notebooks and their packaging are also completely recyclable when you’re finished with them.


School Bags: Look for bags made of sustainable materials like jute or recycled PET plastic. Better yet, source a used bag from a resale shop or a friend or neighbor who is passing theirs on.


Lunchboxes: Invest in a lunchbox that is easy to wash or wipe clean, so that you can keep it in good shape the whole school year through. One of the eco-friendliest options is Planetbox, a stainless steel lunchbox with built-in compartments that can help eliminate the need for single-portion packages.


Pencils and Pens: There’s a debate whether mechanical pencils, which are reusable, or wooden pencils, which are biodegradable, are better for the environment. If you choose to go mechanical, look for pencils that are made from recycled plastic. For traditional pencils, look for those made from sustainably harvested wood, such as Palomino brand. Other green options: pencils made from repurposed newspaper or old blue jeans.


Other Supplies: Seek out glue made from natural materials, such as Coccoina glue sticks made from potato starch, and Eco Dry highlighter pencils, which are not made of plastic and don’t emit volatile organic compounds. You can even find scissors with recycled-plastic handles.

The Guardian

What environmentally friendly school supplies will you buy this back-to-school season? Share your choices in the comments.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan
I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same. more