Ten Purchases to Make This Back-To-School Season

1.  Buy notebooks with high post consumer recycled content. Post consumer material comes from previously used business and consumer products, such as newspapers, shipping cartons, plastic bottles, glass containers, and aluminum cans. Purchase 100% post consumer recycled paper or the highest content you can find.

2.  Purchase computers from companies that offer take-back programs or purchase a refurbished computer. Computers, the fastest growing item ending up in our nation’s landfills, are responsible for air and water pollution caused by the cathode ray tubes in monitors. Hewlett Packard and IBM offer take-back programs for a fee. The internet solutions provider, NEC has taken a step in the right direction by selling the Power Mate eco, which has a flat-panel monitor, lead-free motherboard, has no fan, and because of its low energy consumption is an EPA Energy Star appliance. No matter which company you purchase a computer from, be sure to purchase a flat panel monitor, which contains less lead and presents less of a disposal hazard at the end of their useful life.

3.  Buy lunch boxes or cloth lunch bags and reusable food containers. This will reduce your costs throughout the year and reduce waste since you won’t be throwing away paper and plastic bags each day.

4.  For college students, buy a reusable mug so that the daily cup of joe does not lead to daily tossing of paper or Styrofoam cups. Many coffee shops offer discounts for those who bring in their own mugs.

5.  Dress for success by purchasing clothes made from organic cotton and hemp. Hempy’s, www.hempys.com, offers stylish clothes and bags made from hemp, organic cotton, and recycled synthetics. Under the Canopy at www.underthecanopy.com, makes clothing for the whole family made from organic cotton and hemp. Purchase organic cotton socks and t-shirts for the family at www.kasperorganics.com .

6.  Get organic snacks. Certified organic foods are free of pesticides and genetically engineered ingredients. At your local grocery store, you can shop for local, organic produce. Or, order healthy snacks from Gaiam, which can be found in our Shop for the Earth at www.earthdayresources.org.

7.  Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs to study by. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the standard incandescent bulb wastes 90% of the energy it uses on heat rather than light. Energy Star labeled compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use 75% less energy than the standard incandescent bulb and last 10 times longer.

8.  Make your own storage bins for dorm rooms. Eco-artware.com suggests this idea for creating a storage bin. Use a wooden shipping crate, perked up with a splash of white paint, flipped on its side, and fitted with wheels, it becomes an end table, serving cart and portable bookshelf in one. Flea markets, and summer produce stands are great places to shop for previously used wooden crates. 

9.  Get a book bag made from organic cotton or hemp. You can find messenger bags ranging in price from $29.99 to $32.75 from Good Humans at www.goodhumans.com

10.  Tune up or buy a bike and get some good walking shoes. Walking to school or the office rather than driving will cut down on air pollution and keep you in shape.


These tips are brought to you via Earthday Resources for Living Green, whose mission is to help consumers keep the spirit of Earth Day alive by providing tips and tools to lead environmentally conscious lifestyles. The web-based organization produces a variety of reports, publications, a bimonthly newsletter, Earth Tips, and promotes environmentally responsible businesses through Shop for the Earth, an online store located at www.earthdayresources.org.

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