The Kids Are Back at School... Now Green Their Supplies With These 6 Tips

By Lou Carlozo, dealnews contributor

The kids have already started school, and the next major shopping holiday on your radar is, probably, Black Friday. But while dealnews is already thinking about this most epic of all shopping holidays too, there's still time to focus on other worthy shopping goals. Why not rethink your child's knapsack? Everything a kid touches has a short life span, so it makes sense here, more so than in any other area of your life, to focus on being eco-friendly.

Fortunately, Green Dad's done his homework. I present you with buys that are smart for the planet, and good deals as well, along with a tip or two on savvy recycling and reuse. To get things started, we'll sharpen our pencils with this first item.

1) PaperMate Earth Write Pencils

If your kid is smart, she's probably figured out that those wooden pencils come from cutting down lots of trees. But PaperMate's Earth Write pencils actually use recycled cedar for their casings, meaning the only thing they cut down is environmental impact. If you don't mind driving to a store to cut out shipping costs too, then these Paper Mate Earth Write #2 Pencil 12-Pack ($1.99 with pickup, a low by $4) is a great option.

2) Recycled and Biodegradable Binders

If you don't mind stocking up on supplies to last you for years to come, then Earth Binder offers 100% recycled chipboard notebook covers for as low as about $3 a piece. Otherwise, try a biodegradable option. This Samsill Biodegradable View 1" Binder ($3.09 with free shipping, a low by $3) will break down in a landfill in five years instead of the traditional hundreds.

3) Peace Frogs Day Trippin' Recycled PET Backpack

The folks at eBags offer a number of backpacks made from recycled material, and I'm especially liking this Peace Frogs Day Trippin' Recycled Backpack ($24 with free shipping via "EMAB7WL3X", a low by $8), which is made from recycled plastic bottles. Reviewers give the Peace Frogs bag high marks, and you can choose from four funky styles to wear your eco pride proudly.

4) Recycled Printer Paper

More public schools (including those in my hometown or Chicago) ask kids to buy reams of blank paper to last through the school year. All the major office chains offer recycled paper, and you can even choose what percentage of recycled content you want. OfficeMax offers paper reams with 30%, 50%, or 100% recycled material, with prices starting as low as $5.19 via "SAVEATHON" for a ream of 500 sheets. (Shipping adds $7.95, or spend over $50 for free shipping.) Once you get that recycled paper, remember to set wider type margins on your printer, and use a smaller font size; 10 point is pretty readable as opposed to the normal default of 12 point. For extra eco-friendliness, print on both sides of the paper and reuse old one-sided printouts for rough drafts.

5) What Color is Crayola? Green!

What good is all that recycled paper if you can't mark it up? Crayola ranks as the undisputed kingpin of coloring fun, but it's also an incredibly responsible company when it comes to protecting the earth. It just went online with a "solar farm" that powers the manufacturing of all its crayons and markers, and many of those products themselves are made from recycled materials. You can read all about it on Crayola's website, but before you order anything, be sure to check out our coupon codes that we've rounded up for Crayola products: Just click here.

6) Computer and Electronics Recycling

If "back to school" for your child meant a new laptop or computer, don't make the same huge, huge mistake I used to make back when I was Not So Green Bachelor Guy: Buy a new computer, throw the old one out. Ugh! The stuff inside some batteries and computer components is toxic to say the least, and we don't need all that tech junk adding to landfills. Apple stores nationwide will gladly recycle your old batteries or laptops, and Target now has recycling centers at all of its 1,700-plus stores that can handle all sorts of items from MP3 players and cell phones to printer ink cartridges. As for laptops and computers, here's an excellent idea: Those Canadian good guys at Little Geeks are constantly on the hunt for equipment of all types, as they seek to get computers into the hands of kids who need them. Your digital trash could be some tyke's treasure.

Front page photo credit: corsi photos via Flickr

Lou Carlozo is dealnews' Green Dad columnist. He was most recently the managing editor of and, before that, a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune. Follow him on Twitter— @LouCarlozo63. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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