School Supplies



by Elizabeth Fulham

Every year before school starts, there’s always a rush to get all of the supplies that I’ll need for the school year. However, this year I started thinking about the plastic-free pledge that I took in July and how it would impact what I would need for my daily life at school. Many of the products that you find in a typical supply store contain plastic or materials that you can’t recycle, which is why I came up with a short list of products that you can get instead.

Stubby Pencil Studio highlighters and pencils: I’ve been using traditional wood pencils instead of plastic mechanical pencils throughout my high school years, but to make sure that the wood is coming from a sustainable source, I use these number 2 pencils.

Instead of the usual ink highlighter, their highlighters are made without plastic, ink solvents, or volatile organic compounds, and they never dry out! Although they look like a colored pencil, they work just the same as ink highlighters, and you can be sure that they won’t show on another side of a page.

Both of these products are made by the Stubby Pencil Studio, a company dedicated to making school, office, and art supplies at an affordable price while still focusing on their “commitment to offering quality and earth friendly goods.”

Pela iPhone Case: This iPhone case is made in Canada from what has been coined “Flaxstic,” a biodegradable, flexible material. The flax fiber has shock absorbing qualities and gives the material a unique appearance that is different for each case. The case also has a raised edge to protect the screen and comes in minimal packaging made from 100% recycled paper. It comes in many different colorful options, and you can even customize it with a business logo or slogan. Pela cases are only biodegradable in industrial facilities.

Lunch bags: Instead of using a lunch bag made from un-recycled plastic materials, try this one from Reuse It. Made out of recycled water bottles with an FDA-approved insulated lining, these colorful lunch bags are a great way to bring your lunch to school or work.

Another option is this lunch bag made by TerraCycle, a company that collects and makes products out of trash that you usually can’t recycle. This particular lunch bag is made from tent fabric with padding to insulate your food, and is very durable. You can also send this lunch bag back to TerraCycle once it reaches the end of its life.

Honest Kids Pencil Case: This zippered pencil case is made from upcycled juice pouches collected by TerraCycle. Billions of juice pouches end up in landfills every year and account for a huge waste of resources, and using this pencil case ensures that fewer plastic materials will detrimentally impact the environment. It also comes with 3 slots so that you can easily clip it into a 3 ring binder, and it can be sent back to TerraCycle to continue being upcycled when it can no longer be used.

Tab Dividers: As an alternative to plastic dividers in a binder, use these 100% recycled 8-tab dividers for school or work. They are very durable and do a great job of keeping all of your materials and papers in the right section. Because they are made in Canada, shipping them requires significantly less carbon and energy than products made overseas. Also, using these will save 24 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, and 60 pounds of air pollution! You can simply recycle the dividers in any recycling program along with other paper products.

About Author


Quentin is President of Sustainable Wellesley, an advisor for and a Partner in the management consulting firm Alder Associates. He has degrees in Physics and Business and is studying for a Masters in Sustainability at Harvard University Extension School. Quentin has lived in Wellesley since 2000 and is married with two children in Wellesley pub

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