Back-to-school with greener goods — it’s easier than ever

Getting our back-to-school game face on is hard enough without being forced into buying reams of virgin paper and plastic goods that fail to lighten our mood.

But going against the wave of cheap, plasticky school supplies is getting easier, and more affordable. There are a few hurdles that can trip you up. You may have to order from a couple different places, adding to your shipping costs and carbon footprint. But if you have any office supply needs beyond school, you could make up for that by ordering some of these supplies in bulk.

Going back to school with a green notebook will cost you

Back to school time can be filled with fun as your kids anticipate a new year, a fresh crack at the subjects they love (recess, lunch, Chatting with Peers 101 etc.) and you get to send the lovelies off (their derrières and the couch) and back into some sort of forward-lurching motion toward a fulfilling and educated future.

But just try to send them with greener school supplies. Chances are you’ll be frustrated. I’ve been at this for a few years and have searched many glaringly lit mega stores and combed countless websites looking for reasonably priced, good quality notebooks, binders, pens and pencils made from recycled material.

Green School Supplies: Seek And You Will Find — Our Definitive List

By Barbara Kessler

Well, slap us with a ruler, it’s time once again to hunt down school supplies, to elbow into the desperate mob with our mandates to secure a thousand pens, pencils, highlighters, fine tip Sharpies, binders and the mysterious “folders with brads.”

With the eco news streaming like ticker tape from the big office stores this year, we thought it would be an easy assignment to find what we needed in recycled versions. We were surprised that this was not the case. The stores we sampled (Office Depot, Office Max and Target) offered only a handful of green notebooks and non-toxic pens. At Office Depot we nearly struck out, looking in vain for recycled filler paper, reasonably priced eco-responsible spiral notepads and pencils made from post-consumer waste. We did spot a reusable shopping bag at the checkout line. But we had only a lone green item, Ticonderoga EnviroStik pencils, to put in it!

Tired of combat crawling through towering stacks of un-green paper and binders, we turned the Internet. Aha! Here we found much greener pastures. Online, even the Big Box stores that had failed us in person had the environmentally good goods. Go figure. Serves us right for expending $4 gasoline to search out environmentally friendly products. Our findings, and a powerfully definitive list it is: