Back to School with an extra lesson: Sustainability

Whether you have children or not you are most certainly aware it’s back to school time.  Kids are standing out at the bus stops, lines at McDonalds are longer in the morning, and rush hour times seem to have adjusted a bit.  Getting all of these kids back into the classroom has another effect as well: lots and lots of garbage.  Thrown away scrap paper, hard copies of quizzes and tests passed around, abandoned macaroni art masterpieces, and old science experiments add up quickly to fill many dumpsters over the course of the year.

If you have a child heading to school, you most certainly received The List.  The List are the things that your child just absolutely neeeeeds to be successful in school (red pencils still?  really?).  Before you rush out to fill that list, look at some alternatives that are better for your child’s health and the Earth’s health as well.

Below I’ll outline 5 of the most common items needed by children for school and alternatives that can really make a difference.

  1. Pencils

We’ve all used the timeless No. 2 pencil a few times in our life.  But all the wood to make those pencils must come from somewhere.   Forest Choice has begun manufacturing No. 2 pencils using Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood.  This means that the wood is sourced responsibility and sustainably.

Another option is to use a Sprout
pencil.  These pencils work as a typical pencil, however when you have exhausted its usefulness you can break off the eraser and plant the pencil to grow the seed that the wood encases.

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  1. Pens

Pens fill up our landfills with their plastic and ink.  While ink is a difficult medium to stray away from, the pen body allows for recyclable content.  One example is the Cardboard Pen.  The pen body is made of 100% post-consumer recycled paper.  So the test you just finished with your pen can become your next pen!

 

  1. Eraser

We all need erasers to fix our mistakes (if only a ‘life’ eraser existed…) and erasers are typically made from vinyl, plastic, or some other gum-like material.  These materials are generally not sustainably generated; vinyl itself is made from two basic substances, one of them being natural gas.  Since natural gas is a fossil fuel, more dinosaurs will have to perish before you can get your next eraser.

Onyx + green produces erasers made from recycled rubber, which may be old tires, gloves, or other insulating material.  Reusing rubber prevents it from ending up in a landfill where it can sit for thousands of years.

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  1. Notebooks

This is a relatively easy problem to solve on your own.  Most stores now offer a clearly marked ‘sustainable’ option of notebooks.  Staples has their ‘Sustainable Earth’ wirebound notebooks.  These are made from 80% sugarcane waste.  If sugarcane isn’t what you want to save there are hundreds of notebooks available made from recycled paper content.

 

  1. Glue

No, we’re not going to suggest purchasing glue made from recycled horses (although I suppose horses are sustainable? Whew, that got morbid).  There are many recipes available online for simple homemade glue if your child needs glue at school.  Check out this link to the Sustainable Echo website which gives a great recipe for homemade glue.

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