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greenliving
Green School Supplies
Eco-Savvy Shopping Just Got Easier
by N’ann Harp
by Betsy s. franz
With all the other things that parents have to worry about when getting kids ready to go
back to school, we might be tempted to think that our choices of school supplies don’t
matter much. But the National Retail Federation estimates that Americans bought more
than $20 billion in back-to-school supplies last year. That’s a lot of paper, pencils and
backpacks, which makes a significant impact on the environment.
T
hat’s why shoppers’ demand for green products has paper products. A PCW symbol on the label indicates the
caught the attention of local retailers. Products that paper is truly made from post-consumer waste and not
once were obtainable only through specialty stores just wood chips and mill scraps. Buying 100 percent PCW
are now carried by some major nationwide office sup- paper is a way of closing the loop of the recycling process.
ply stores. This makes it easier for eco-conscious parents Some fun, tree-free papers are now made from alter-
to avoid compromising their values with back-to-school native fibers such as grasses, banana stalks, sugar cane,
purchases. bamboo, seaweed and cotton. Because these alternatives
Today’s eco-conscious kids will love it, because they cost more than everyday papers, they make a better choice
know the score. Here are some things to keep in mind. for stationery and personalized note cards.
Paper Pens & Pencils
The two prime environmental culprits in school supply Pencils are now available in either recycled or FSC-
materials are paper and plastic. The Worldwatch Institute certified wood. Forest Stewardship Council certification
reports that nearly 42 percent of the trees harvested in the provides independent proof that the wood comes from a
world are used to make paper, often eliminating critical forest managed according to the most stringent practices
wildlife habitats in the process. for environmental responsibility, social benefit and long-
Recycled paper is now a readily available option. It term economic viability. Other environmentally friendly
preserves forests, reduces pollution from processing and options for pencils include those made from recycled tires,
reduces solid waste in landfills. The Environmental Protec- T-shirts, newspaper or money.
tion Agency recommends buying paper with a minimum of Refillable pens and mechanical pencils are another
30 percent post-consumer content, but many office supply option. Some are made from used car headlights, CDs and
stores now carry a wide selection of 100 percent recycled plastic shopping bags. It’s better to refill than landfill.
34 Phoenix
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