Mother Earth Living

Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Add to My MSN

Green Your Back-to-School Shopping

8/5/2009 4:25:51 PM

Tags: eco-friendly school supplies, green school supplies, green office

I love back-to-school shopping.

Even though my color-coded organization system never lasts more than a month, having neat new supplies gives me a fresh start. Finding a turquoise ruler to match my calculator and math binder makes me giddy.

But after working for Natural Home this summer, the green guilt has set in. Back-to-school shopping involves a lot of waste.

In high school, the waste is amplified because teachers do not coordinate their lists. Each teacher requests a binder just for his or her class. Then one teacher says I’ll need tape, another says glue sticks and yet another wants me to buy a bottle of Elmer’s.

Of course, by the end of the year I’ve only used each thing once.

But this year, things have to change. I am going to try harder to reuse the old and green the new. I don’t have my specific supply list yet, so I’ll shop around for green versions of these five essentials:

• Backpack: I have a sturdy backpack I’ve had since 9th grade that I can reuse, but my sister might need a new one. These certified organic European hemp bags come in lots of sizes and colors.

    land's end
This eco-friendly backpack from Land’s End is made of 100 percent recycled fabric. Photo Courtesy Land’s End

• Lunchbox: My lavender tin lunchbox broke, so I’m on the hunt for a new, stylish lunchbox. Assistant editor Kim Wallace totes this eco-friendly polka-dot lunch bag, which costs $23. I’m also in love with this sleek stainless steel stackable lunchbox from To Go Ware, which costs $23. Paired with a Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottle in any color and some cute bamboo cutlery, I’ll be good to go!

To Go Ware’s stainless steel stackable lunchbox is inspired by an Indian Tiffin box.  Photo Courtesy To Go Ware

• Pencils/Pens: I always lose pencils and pens, so I’ll need new ones again this year. These pencils from Paper Mate EarthWrite are awesome. Made from reclaimed wood and 100 percent pre-consumer waste materials, these No.2 pencils are eco-friendly and inexpensive; a dozen costs $1.50. These ballpoint pens from Pilot BeGreen are available at most office supply stores. They are made from 78 percent post-consumer recycled content and are refillable; three pens cost $5.

• Spiral notebooks: All my spirals are full and ready to be recycled. Staples’ eco-friendly college ruled notebooks are made from 80 percent sugarcane waste and are printed with eco-conscious vegetable- and water-based ink. The notebooks cost $3. I also like this pricey but adorable recycled notebook from Target for $10.

• Binders: I have two binders that are still in good condition, but I’ll need a couple more. I can decorate a recycled binder from TerraCycle and recycle it at the end of the school year!

You may have to explore the Internet to find an eco-friendly lunchbox and backpack, but green office supplies are available everywhere (Some for prices less their non-green counterparts!) When shopping, save time by asking an employee if there is an eco-friendly section or if there are eco-friendly alternatives to conventional supplies.

If your local office supply store does not offer the green product you seek, try this online green office supply store.

Do you have a favorite eco-friendly office supply store, brand or product? Please leave a comment!

Related Content

U.S. Green Building Council Promotes Green Schools

The USGBC’s “50 for 50” green schools initiative aims to create a green schools caucus in every stat...

11 Tips for Cleaning with Kids

Combine spending quality time with your kids and cleaning house. These 11 tips can help you effectiv...

The Write Stuff: Recycled Plastic Pens for Back to School

Green your back to school shopping with Pentel’s Recycology line, featuring pens and pencils made fr...

Green Colleges

Natural Home editorial intern Samantha Schwartz tours green colleges on the East Coast.

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


5/22/2014 4:28:34 AM
I bought Paper Mate EarthWrite pencils for my son after I saw an ad at the TV, my son was very proud he had such eco-friendly pencils and all his classmates asked him where they can buy them. His class decided to impress their math teacher and buy some products from and eco-friendly pencils, the teacher was impressed to see his pupils buy such pencils and care about the nature.

Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.