My school supply ad arrived in the mail yesterday. It’s so colorful and pretty and almost makes me wish I was going back to school because I kind of have a crush on all things notebook and pencil and pen pouch and binder and someone stop me now. I just want to color.
As I looked through the pages of supplies I was taken in. Those ad people know what they’re doing. Seriously. But I’m not rushing out my door to shop the latest sales, not anymore. Not since I read that book and everything started to change.
Now when I read an ad I think to myself, “Hmm, how were those products made? Is there pain in these pages I can’t see?” And true to my new form I began to research notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons and markers looking for companies doing the most good with their products.
Here is my strategy for ethical school supply shopping this year. (In part two we’ll cover shopping for clothes.)
Shop your stash. Around here we have colored pencils in colors I didn’t even know existed. We’ll be using the ones we have instead of buying new. What do you already have that you can reuse?
Get thrifty. We always start our hunt for common items at the thrift store. Last week we went to one of our favorites and, I kid you not, a girl walked out carrying an arm-load of binders. She was saving money and giving some castoff school supplies new life. When we got into the store there were still several binders left (read a whole shelf). Check your thrift stores friends. They’re golden.
BuyGreen. BuyGreen.com has an entire section dedicated to school supplies, including the recycled newspaper pencils and crayon sticks I love. The crayons come in sticks as well as fun shapes and are recycled from crayons that would otherwise end up in landfills. You can even arrange for your crayons to be recycled through Crazy Crayons when you’re done with them. Color on!
TerraCycle. For pencil pouches, lunch sacks and more unique gear check out TerraCycle products (available for sale through DwellSmart). They’re taking garbage and remaking it into useful products. Their website even includes tutorials on how to turn your garbage into something useful. Check their site for ways to send your reusable garbage to be made into useful products.
Skilcraft. Skilcraft brand products are manufactured by the AbilityOne Network which “envisions a world where everyone that is blind or has other significant disabilities is able to achieve their maximum employment potential.” Skilcraft products are manufactured in the USA and many, including their notebooks, use recycled materials. Skilcraft products are available at OfficeDepot, on Amazon and through other retailers.
Up&Up School Supplies at Target. Target’s corporate statement about social responsibility is robust. They will tell you where their products are made and how their factories are performing when it comes to worker rights. They’re making strides in environmental responsibility and even working to reduce conflict minerals in their electronics.
This year when you purchase Up&Up school supplies before August 2nd Target will donate supplies to the Kids in Need Foundation at a one-to-one ratio. It’s that easy to do something good with your purchases.
I researched, Googled and emailed several companies this year. The ones listed here stood out to me above the rest for their commitment to recycled products, corporate transparency and desire to offer dignified employment. I’ll keep looking and hopefully next year have a few more options for you. Until part two… Happy Shopping.
Where are you shopping for ethical back to school supplies this year?
Was this post helpful for you? Consider forwarding it to a friend or sharing it on your Facebook page!