School on the horizon means two things: There will be some sanity and routine back in our adult lives, and we will be making an exhaustive journey in search of perfect school supplies.
Although kids act like they hate the return of school, all kids love the attention surrounding the preparation for school. After all, the start of school is all about them, and it’s one of the few times that we ask kids for their opinions.
In your mission to get them ready for school, you have a golden opportunity to lead them by example. Show your kids that you care enough about them and the planet by buying sustainable school supplies. It doesn’t hurt that there are some very hip, green products cool enough that your kids might show them off to their friends.
The challenge with being green and living in Tracy is finding the products. With all things today vying for the consumer’s eye, be careful not to be misled by colorful packaging. Personally, I am drawn to packages that have green labels, or, I am even embarrassed to say, that have leaves on them.
To start with, look for the recycle triangle. The manufacturers that are capturing the green market splash their “greenness” all over the package, with explanations of the recycled content. Try and buy the products with the most post-consumer recycled content. Remember, post-consumer is that which has been used before, recycled and remanufactured.
That’s just a start.
Keeping to a teaching theme, my “green star” goes to three products that are not only innovative for their reuse but hip for today’s generation.
The first is a line of products made by Terracycle — found at Target — that turns Lays’ recycled potato chip bags into pencil cases. There are also two-pocket folders made from the boxes the potato chips are shipped in. Think of the ubiquitous Lays’ yellow packaging, with the picture of the perfect potato chip, and you get the idea.
The second green star goes to a black Ticonderoga pencil called Renew — found at Staples — made out of recycled rubber tires. A black pencil will certainly stand out from all the boring No. 2’s in the classroom.
And my third green star goes to O.P.P. pencil boxes — also found at Target. O.P.P. stands for Other People’s Plastic, and no two pencil boxes are the same color.
Paper, paper everywhere
Going green with recycled content paper in school supplies is easier than you think. Staples has a line of binder paper, notebooks and composition books called Eco Friendly, that is made from sugar cane waste. The notebooks have a natural cover that is perfect to doodle on.
Target carries a brand called Green Room that is a respectable 60 percent to 70 percent recycled content, and the line includes notebooks, tabbed file folders and binders. My favorite is the red notebook, with the word “recycle” stamped boldly across the cover. No one will miss the message.
For printer paper, Staples has a 100 percent post-consumer product. There is even a line of Post-its with recycled content.
Pencils and pens
Most people don’t look at the pens and pens and think green choices make a difference, but when you consider that disposable pens are neither recyclable nor biodegradable, and that 1.6 billion end up in landfills each year, your choices make a difference.
Look for pens and mechanical pencils that are refillable and made with recycled content plastic. Pentel and Pilot have some, although the selection is limited and I have found them only at Staples. For wood-like pencils, Target has some that are made are made from recycled paper rather than wood.
Teach your children every day, in small ways, that we can make a difference. These small school supply ideas will grow, and together they will change the world.
• For a change: Change one product your child uses at school. It will get them thinking the next time.
• To make a difference: Buy recycled binder paper and copy paper.
• To make a stand: Buy recycled notebooks, folders and pens. These will stand out and lead by example.
• Christina D.B. Frankel is a 20-year Tracy resident, architect and mother of three. Her column, Living Green, runs twice-monthly in the Tracy Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.