TreeHugger Goes Back to School


Already we can hear the groans of millions of schoolchildren all across America as they trudge back across the schoolyard. What are the future leaders of tomorrow packing in their book bags? If you're looking to give your kids the head start they deserve, here's how they can score an A in Environment before the bell rings for first period.

1) Keen's Hybrid Transport backpacks incorporate leftover aluminum and rubber materials from their shoe-manufacturing process, along with recycled polyester and foam from outside sources. If you're looking for something a little different, here's a selection of other eco-friendly book bags we like.

2) Save trees one Smencil at a time and smell delicious while you're at it. Comprising a No. 2 graphite core wrapped tightly with layers of newspaper soaked in eco-friendly fragrances, then topped off with a biodegradable eraser, each Smencil is guaranteed to keep its scent for two years. If the scent of natural cedar is more your sniffer's speed, check out ForestChoice's au natural pencils crafted from sustainably harvested cedar. You can even choose pencils made from recycled denim.

3) Made from corn starch, these biodegradable pens are produced by Industries for the Blind, an organization staffed by the visually impaired. You can also get refills so you can reuse the same pen casing over and over again. Another option: Pilot's BeGreen pens made from 65 percent recycled materials.

4) Color inside or outside the lines with this set of Forestry Stewardship Council-certified coloring pencils. Made from sustainably harvested California cedar, the pencils travel in packs of 12.
5) If your kid insists on eating paste, at least let it be Coccoina's nontoxic, non-solvent, and acid-free glue. The almond-scented paste even tastes like marzipan. (Well, if you're into that sort of thing, that is). Also comes in the form of glue sticks for portability.
6) Staples are so passé—try one of these adorable staple-free staplers for size, instead. Both dog and cat versions work by punching a tiny hole in your documents and then folding the remaining flaps together to secure your stack of papers.
7) We're absolutely besotted by Ecojot's 100 percent post-consumer recycled notebooks, sketchbooks, journals, and notepads, which are made in Canada with biodegradable vegetable-based dyes. Even the paper mill functions on landfill-gas-generated power.

8) Brown paper bags encourage deforestation, while vinyl lunch boxes contain lead. What's a parent to do? Give these waterproof neoprene lunch bags by BuiltNY a whirl—they're insulated to keep food hot or cold, and are slick-looking, to boot.

9) Get your three-ring binders, or Rebinders, from the Sustainable Group. Made from sturdy corrugated cardboard with 35 to 38 percent post-consumer recycled material, Rebinders are completely recyclable. And if your binder suffers any damage, you don't have to chuck the whole thing. Just order a new cardboard cover and screw on the original hardware from your previous binder. Lots of room for you to experiment with how your initials look with his or her initials.