Today we continue our adventure into going back to school, Earth Friendly Style.
While out shopping for school shopping a couple days ago, I watched the mayhem around me. Why is it that most Moms take their kids with them while shopping for school supplies? My kids stay home for most of these adventures. I cannot deal with the craziness that is four kids begging, pleading and crying for school supplies. Come on people, we are talking pencils here! For me, leaving the kids at home is a sanity saving exercise… plus it gives Mommy some free time. I might actually get to try on the blouse I am considering purchasing or linger while selecting a new mascara.
School Supplies can be a bit of a challenge. We are blessed that our lists are relatively small. I have focused on recycled paper products (folders & spirals available at Target), crayons that are non-toxic and as responsible as possible (such as Rebecca’s Recycled ‘Riters), pencils made from sustainable wood and recycled materials (I’m on the fence as to which is better, some studies show it takes MORE energy to make the recycled pencils than sustainable cedar pencils made without paint/foil/latex). You can find sustainable pencils in most school supply sections (look for the “made from sustainable yield wood” logo) such as Ticonderoga and SRX USA Green. Target also carries SRX Green Recycled Denim pencils and SRX Green Recycled Newspaper Pencils. For a fun change, check out Smencils. If your child is older and responsible… getting a couple of mechanical pencils and a case of graphite might make the most sense. However, our school doesn’t allow mechanical pencils for our children’s age groups.
We don’t yet need actual notebook paper. However, I have found that it isn’t the easiest thing to find if you want it recycled. I’m not sure why that is? Check out Green Earth Office Supply for a couple options. Looking for some fun notebooks for your high schooler? Banana paper should pack plenty of wow power. Give your teen a canvas tote made from organic cotton (check for fair trade/labor practices) and add an iron on that says, “Recycle Me”, “Fairly Traded”, “No Plastic”, “100% Natural”, “Love Your Mother”, etc… iron ons can be found at your craft store (such as JoAnns, beware their canvas bags though… they are not organic cotton nor are they fair trade. Sweat shop production and pesticide plagued cotton fields doesn’t equal Earth Friendly).
If your supply lists include items such as tissue, baby wipes, cleaning wipes (ie Clorox), paper bags, zippie bags, etc… Opt for natural, recycled, biodegradable options when possible. Yes, these choices may cost a tad bit more, but you will be reaching an audience. And your child just might be a little environmentalist in the making who adores showing off his recycled paper towels to fellow classmates. Choose chlorine free (and biodegradable when available) baby wipes. Seventh Generation is a good option for wipes (go with the refill packs, as they use much less packaging than the hard tubs and Teachers don’t need the tub anyway.) Another great option is Avalon Organics Baby Wipes. If your supply list includes sanitizing wipes such as Clorox…send a pack or two of Method Bathroom Wipes (if its made to clean up around the toilet, they can surely handle wiping door knobs and desktops).
If you are the proud parent of a preschooler, check out Mimi the Sardine for mess mats and aprons. These are great not only for cooking projects & meal times but also for art projects (paint apron anyone?). Another way to green your preschool experience is to make your own play-dough and finger paints. (Recipes abound online, so I won’t bother to post here!) If you are brave enough to bring your little one in on the creation process, making the dough and paints can be another learning experience. Take your education outside, find textures in nature. Play with rocks, leaves, dirt, sticks, water & sand. Listen for the sounds of cars, trucks, wind, trees, birds, animals, etc…, Walk like a duck, an elephant, a snake. These activities cost nothing, use NO resources, are great fun, are educational and help your child (and you!) develop a love for nature.