Green Back-to-School Supplies
can be part of the solution – take action this school year!
Learn how and where to buy recycled- and
environmentally-friendly school supplies, pack a waste-free lunch,
1. Re-use, Recycle, & Buy Environmentally-Friendly Back-to-School Supplies
Your back-to-school purchases make a huge difference. Here's why:
14 billion pencils are produced every year, many made with wood from ancient forests. Americans use about 31.5 million tons of printing and writing paper each year, requiring 535 million trees (most from virgin tree fiber) and 12 billion gallons of oil to make. The average American consumes about 660 pounds of paper per year, compared to 550 pounds in Japan and only about 8.8 pounds in India.
Re-use and Recycle:
• Can you reuse binders, pencils, and markers from last year? You might not need to buy much new.
• Shop for used binder notebooks at your local re-use agency. In the Bay Area check out East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse - 3-ring notebooks are about 25 cents.
• Buy used clothing at numerous fashionable and funky stores and/or donate your own used clothing. In the Bay Area, check out: Hannah's, Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Trading Co., Goodwill, Salvation Army, Out of the Closet, and more. You can find info about most of these stores under East Bay Used Children's Clothing. Or look on-line or in the Yellow Pages under "used children's clothing."
Buy Environmentally-Friendly Supplies:
- Visit the Green Schools Buying Guide. It's for everyone—whether you're overhauling school policy or just need to purchase a few reams of paper.
- Center for Health, Environment and Justice – Check out their 2011 Guide to PVC-Free Back-to-School Supplies and their Back-to-School Checklist.
- New American Dream has an excellent Back-to-School Guide.
- New Leaf Paper - You can find gorgeous New Leaf 100% post consumer recycled notebooks at Target Stores. New Leaf also offers a 100% Recycled Back to School Value Bundle (online) for $40 that includes notebooks, binders, recycled content paper, dividers and pens. You can also save 10% off all other products by entering the promo code "RECYCLED" at checkout.
- The Green Office - (online) Sells supplies with recycled content, fewer hazardous chemicals, PVC-free, and reusability (like refillable pens). New "PVC-free Catalog," having removed nearly 2,000 products containing PVC or vinyl from their catalog. Enter the coupon code TGOWELCOME at checkout, and receive 10% off your first purchase.
- Office Depot, Office Max, Staples - (in-store or online) Look for recycled content paper and notebook products, green printing supplies; pencils made from certified sustainable-harvest wood; and EnviroTech products, which have a higher recycled content.
- Green Earth Office Supplies - (online only) Sells notebooks, recycled paper, recycled binders (some are made of old circuit boards!), and many other great products such as reusable, biodegradable, non-PVC plastic containers for lunch boxes under the Kitchen Supplies tab (containers must be hand-washed).
- Better Office Products - (1-800-631-7673) Has a complete line of PVC-free polyethylene office supplies. Avoid PVC (has a "3" in the recycling symbol or a "V" underneath); many office products that are "archival quality," or "acid free" are not made from PVC.
Make a waste-free lunch and make a difference! It's
estimated that the average school-age child using a disposable lunch
generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That's about 18,760
pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school!
There are 9,000 schools in California alone! And did you know that many
vinyl lunchboxes contain dangerous levels of poisonous lead?
Find out how you can pack a healthy, waste-free lunch:
- Waste Free Lunches - information about how to pack a waste-free lunch and where to get a "laptop lunch box" with reusable containers that neatly fit into a lunch box.
- reuseit.com - provides alternatives to help reduce disposable plastic and paper bag waste. Watch their Waste-Free Lunch video on YouTube.
- Klean Kanteen - the maker of the original, reusable and non-toxic stainless steel water bottles offers a 10% discount for school and team fundraising. Have your school logo put on if you like. Complete the form here.
- Kids Konserve - offers waste-free lunch containers.
- Waste-Free Lunch Guidelines - Download this document with helpful waste-free lunch guidelines developed by 4th graders at Prospect Sierra School.
- Lead in Lunchboxes - Learn about how to test your child's lunchbox for lead, find alternatives to vinyl lunchboxes, and join the campaign to stop the manufacture of toxic lunchboxes.
- Healthy Lunches - Get ideas for packing your own healthy lunches from Chef Ann at www.lunchlessons.org or transform the school lunch offered at your school with the Rethinking School Lunch guide from ecoliteracy.org.
- Avoid PVC Plastic - Many Glad (TM) products are made with polypropylene and are PVC-free, including Glad bags, Gladware reusable containers, and Glad plastic wrap. Avoid #3 plastics.
3. Start a Green School Program at Your SchoolLearn about ways to empower your kids and your school to make a difference:
- Green Schools Initiative Take Action Page - Tips for passing a school board resolution, and 7 Steps to a Green School, can help you get started.
- National PTA - National PTA has a position on School Modernization and Environmental Health and provides tips and resources for ensuring safe and healthy school facilities.
- Green Purchasing Policies - Pass an environmentally friendly-purchasing policy at your school with ideas and sample policies from our Buying Guide. Also see New American Dream’s Responsible Purchasing Network and model policies.