Going green for back to school
How you can help your children have an eco-friendly school year.
School is synonymous with paper; paper to draw on, practise handwriting, learn the alphabet and, as your child gets older, use to do maths and take notes. Having paper also requires having markers and pencils and coloured pencils, all of which need to be manufactured and that have an impact on our environment. The way to circumvent this: green supplies.
Recycled and/or sustainably sourced paper products are what you want. Staples carry a variety of recycled paper products, as do online retailers such as notonthehighstreet.com which have notebooks in tons of colours and patterns and even notebooks made of elephant dung.
Pencils and Coloured Pencils
Pencils can be made from virgin wood, and most of them are thrown out long before it actually becomes physically impossible to write with them. TreeSmart makes pencils out of recycled newspaper, including coloured pencils, and P’kolino produces wood-free coloured pencils.
Crayons and Magic Markers
Crayons, and then magic markers, are probably the writing instruments most used by children. Your average crayon, however, is made from paraffin wax which is derived from petroleum, which means they don’t decompose easily. Instead, try soy based crayons like Prang or Crayon Rocks, or beeswax crayons like the ones made by Stockmar. As for magic markers, most say that they are non-toxic, however they do use chemical dyes, which you can evade by using the food dye inks found in markers by P’kolino.
Once you have your eco-friendly pencils, you’re going to need a place to put them. The online eco store Remarkable sells pencil cases made of recycled tyres, CD cases, recycled waste, natural bamboo, and natural felt. If you want something with a bit more flash, Ecoutlet has pencil cases made from recycled juice packs.
It has long been considered that the healthiest (and cheapest) option for your child’s mealtimes is to have them bring a packed lunch to school. But packing a lunch requires containers and a lunchbox and miles of Clingfilm and tinfoil. The website My Friendly Lunchbox offers a variety of products free from BPA, PVC and Phthalates, from lunch boxes and aluminum water bottles to cloth napkins and the Food Kozy, an eco-friendly substitute for Clingfilm or plastic sandwich bags made from recycled materials.
You have your full pencil case and your packed lunch, now you just need a place to put it all. Many backpacks are made from plastics and vinyl, which when your child outgrows the backpack (or it succumbs to wear-and-tear) won’t degrade. The Go Eco Store has a number of fair trade kids backpacks made from recycled fabric and decorated with adorable animals. If you want to match your backpack to your pencil case, The Eco Life offers backpacks made from recycled juice cartons.
And once your child is kitted out, forgo the bus or car and walk to school!