Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back to School Supplies

Wow, back-to-school prep and activities have been keeping us pretty busy!  We are finally settling into the schedules for 4 different schools, homework, sports, and other soon as September comes, it's like the pulse of the family starts to race!

The back-to-school supply lists that come home are usually pretty classic, including scissors, pens, pencils, notebooks, crayons and markers.  Even before my family had school supply lists, in fact as soon as each child was old enough to hold a pencil, they've been scribbling, doodling, and creating with Crayola products.  I guess you could say, they've always been a family favorite.  This year when it was time to sift through the supply lists for my kids, it brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart when I learned about Crayola's new "Eco-Evolution" and the greening of their products by using renewable energy, protecting the rainforests, and by reducing waste.

Sweet Pea was the first to notice the new initiatives by Crayola.  She brought me her crayon box and showed me that they now are using solar power to make 1/3 of their crayons, which is equal to about a billion crayons each year made with solar power.  To accomplish this, they built a 15-acre solar farm with 26,000 panels.  Pretty impressive!  Wonder if they'll name a crayon, "solar panel blue"?

To "green" their colored pencils, they produced them with reforested wood which is wood taken from special tree farms grown specifically for harvesting, and not from tropical rain forest.  Crayola plants new trees for every one tree used to make the pencils.  Maybe they should name one of the green pencils "sustainable harvest green"  :)

And black is now in vogue at may have noticed that Crayola colored markers have black barrels instead of white. Crayola is now using recycled plastic bottle caps to make the marker barrels.  In addition, plastic scraps from making marker casings are crushed into tiny pellets and put back into the system. The black color of the barrels allows more recycled plastic to be used, in turn keeping 1 million pounds of plastic bottle caps and scrap plastic out of  landfills.

During my back-to-school supply shopping, I found a "green" highlighter by Pentel.  It is part of the new Recycology™ the Science of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle program, which Pentel developed "to enhance its mission of helping the environment by creating less waste and increasing recycling activity" through innovative product design and manufacturing.  With this line of products, Pentel's goal is to "protect natural resources and the environmental at all stages of the manufacturing process" and it is accomplished by using a minimum of 50% recycled content (excluding consumable content and refills).   

The Handy-lineS, ultraslim highlighters I found are made from 54% post consumer recycled plastic.  I also like that they are retractable and refillable, creating less waste.  Even the packaging is made from cardstock that is 100% recycled, and the plastic blister front piece is a minimum of 25% recycled material!

There are many outstanding products in this line, including the popular mechanical pencil leads which come in 100% recycled plastic case, many pens, white board marker, and permanent markers made with 50-80% recycled plastic .  I like that Pentel is recycling products that would otherwise end up in the landfill. 

Paper Mate also has green products that are impressive.  Their line of biodegradable pens and pencils, have barrels that unscrew and are made from corn-based material.  After removing the interior plastic/ink piece that is not biodegradable, the barrel decomposes in the compost or landfill in about a year.  They also have products made from recycled materials such as their correction film (67% recycled material), ball point pens made with 70-80% recycled materials.  I found the Earth Write pencils and added that to our back-to-school supply pile.  These pencils are made from 100% recycled cedar.  They also participate with Terracycle one of my favorite eco-entrepreneurial companies that up-cycling materials using innovative designs   

So while there may have been a tad bit of back to school blues that banished quickly as our daily pace quickened ...we also found some back-to-school green to start the year off write ;)  I'm sure you found many green school supplies in your travels too.  Leave a comment to let me know what you've found! 



  1. Crayola and Pentel are great options but I recently just stumbled on these fun color pencils from the company called O'BON. These pencils are amazing. They are made out of recycled newspaper and you actually see newspaper clippings when you shave them! The designs on these pencils are super fun too. My kids love em. They sell online too at

  2. Such cool information! Who knew that Crayola was using recycled bottle caps to make their marker barrels and reforested wood for their colored pencils?! Thanks for the post!
    -Deb for Ecover