See shades of green when school shopping

  • Article by: CHANIE KIRSCHNER , Mother Nature Network
  • Updated: August 8, 2012 - 1:44 PM

You can be environmentally friendly when buying supplies.

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Crayon Rocks are made from soybeans and are completely biodegradable.

It's back-to-school season, and that means fresh notebooks, sharp colored pencils, and crisp, clean backpacks. Getting green school supplies is easy because there are so many options out there.

Backpacks: Getting an eco-friendly backpack can be as simple as getting one that's built to last a whole year, one that you won't need to replace come November. Conventional backpacks, especially the plastic ones made for little kids, can contain potentially harmful chemicals and dyes. EcoGear's EcoZoo backpacks are made from recycled and renewable materials, don't contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and are colored with nontoxic dyes. EcoGear also has a line of backpacks for older kids, just in case your eighth-grader doesn't want to carry around a backpack shaped like a panda.

Crayons: Traditional crayons are made from petroleum, so why not try soy crayons? Soy crayons were developed by two Purdue students in 1993 as an entry into a soybean utilization contest. Unlike regular crayons, soy crayons are completely biodegradable. Two brands to try? Crayon Rocks, which are virtually indestructible and fun to use because of their unique shape (which also is said to improve a child's handwriting grip), and Prang, which sells eight crayons for $1.

Lunchboxes: PlanetBox's lunchboxes, made of stainless steel, are great for older kids and picky eaters who need a variety of foods to make lunch interesting. They're also good for those who don't like their noodles fraternizing with their fruit. Another option is bento boxes, which are colorful, contain no toxic chemicals and are easy to clean. Crocodile Creek lunch boxes are free of PVC and phthalates.

Pens and pencils: Grassroots' biodegradable pens, made entirely from cornstarch, will completely disintegrate within a year of being thrown away. If your kids aren't allowed to use pens in class yet, try ForestPoint pencils, made from FSC-certified wood.

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