Eco-Hip Gear for Back-to-School

By Deirdre Wilson

Green Parenting from Parenthood.comThe average American family spends more than $500 on back-to-school supplies for kids, including a slew of items that are replaced from year to year. Why not make a serious effort this year to reduce the impact your back-to-school shopping has on the environment?

Several companies are offering recycled school gear with kid-appeal. From backpacks to pencils, here are some products worth checking out:

• Bags, pencil cases and folders from recycled drink pouches
The New Jersey firm TerraCycle Inc. recycles aluminum and polyethylene drink pouches from Capri Sun and Kool-Aid into pencil cases, lunch bags, tote bags and homework folders (ranging in price from $1.99 to about $10). While not ready for store shelves yet, a kid-friendly backpack made from drink pouches is in the works (expected to retail for $12.99). The company also offers a recycled cardboard Eco Binder, for holding notebook and classroom papers.

• Organic hemp bags and backpacks – Only water and mechanical combing (no chemicals or pesticides) are used in Rawganique’s certified organic hemp clothing, linens, bags and backpacks. There are five styles of backpacks, available in seven colors, ranging in price from $30 for a mini pack to $85 for a deluxe pack that includes several compartments.

• Recycled pens – Earth Write pencils from PaperMate are made from recycled newspaper. They’re available for about $2 per dozen, through numerous Web sites and office supply stores.

These are just some of the “green” back-to-school gear offerings out there. Search the Web for more eco-friendly finds, as well as other tips for lowering your back-to-school shopping tab while giving a nod to the environment, such as using notebooks with recycled paper and relying on last year’s gently used pens, pencils, markers and crayons for this school year as well.