Zero Waste School Supplies

by Sandra Curtis

Have you ever thought about the waste created by school supplies?

Junked up binders? Landfill.

Spiral Bound Notebooks (spiral accompanied by all that paper)? Landfill.

Plastic Binder Dividers and Pocket Folders? Landfill.

A marker dropped on the ground and broken into teeny bits of microplastics? Those pieces may be washed down a storm drain and out to the bay.

San Francisco-based Wisdom Supply is charting a different course with school supplies by providing Zero Waste options. Each school they partner with, is able to track the TONS of plastic they are actively preventing from entering the waste stream.

The woman-owned company isn’t just paying lip-service to buzzwords like “eco, sustainable, green, and zero-waste.” According to founder Heather Itzla, it’s core to their mission to “disrupt what we call the shelf-to-shore pipeline, and replace it with systems that prevent plastic and vinyl from entering the global waste stream.”

Individuals can shop Wisdom’s Zero Waste School Supplies or the company will work directly with schools to supply whole classrooms, as well as to create school-specific Zero Waste Kits.

All of their products in the school supply assortment have been tested and vetted by students and teachers at local Bay Area schools, making these supplies a win for teachers, kids, and the planet. 

Shop the Zero Waste products here. 

Join our global Coalition. 

Plastic Pollution Coalition member organization Made Safe has released a new Hazard List of the worst offenders of toxic chemicals across product categories, including what they are, where they’re found, and how they impact human or environmental health, and aquatic or animal life.

The list serves as a resource to help consumers avoid toxic chemicals in the products they use everyday, from baby to personal care to household and beyond. Included in the Hazard List are bisphenols, phthalates, and PVC, which are chemicals of concern found in many plastics. These chemicals may leech from plastics and act as endocrine disruptors.

Made Safe is a nonprofit organization providing a comprehensive human health-focused certification for nontoxic products across store aisles.

Made Safe and Plastic Pollution Coalition previously collaborated on The Healthy Baby Guide available for free download here. 

See also: ‘ReThink Plastic’ Reduced Exposures to Harmful Chemicals in Plastic which Mimic Estrogen

Take Action to stop plastic pollution.

Join our global Coalition. 

You’ve probably seen them, and you might even use them, but did you know Eco-Bags Products was the first reusable bag company in the U.S.? CEO Sharon Rowe founded the company in 1989 after participating in Hudson River cleanups in New York, where she saw trees along the river filled with single-use plastic bags.

Rowe purchased cotton string bags like the kind she had seen in Europe for her own use, and every time she shopped she fielded questions and comments about the bags. At the same time, Rowe was a new mother, living in Manhattan and hoping to start her own business that would do good in the world.

She founded Eco-Bags Products  with a mission “to offer thoughtful, ethically and sustainably sourced, durable-reusable bags that inspire people to reduce, reuse, recycle, and re-imagine the world we live in.”

“It look about 15 years for the business to take off,” explains Rowe, who first imported the bags from Germany before working directly with a manufacturer in India. “Earth Day in 1990 was a turning point for us. We sold bags hand over fist on that day. But 2007 was the year our bags really took off because we were featured on Oprah’s first Earth Day show.”

From the beginning, Rowe insisted on fair wage and fair labor throughout their supply chain. “We didn’t want to solve a problem here on the back of someone else,” she explains. “Our entire supply chain is clean. All of our business choices are driven by ‘Leave no trace,’ and ‘Do no harm.'”

Rowe has parlayed her experience with Eco-Bags Products into a book due out in May, The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don’t Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living. The book shows a step-by-step process of “building a profitable, right-scaled, sustainable venture that doesn’t compromise your values.”

Much has changed in the 29 years since Rowe founded Eco-Bags Products, but some things remain the same, like their commitment to change the world one reusable bag at a time. And the classic cotton string bag is still the bestseller.

Take Action to stop plastic pollution.

Join our global Coalition. 

By Paul Denikin

As scientists warn about climate change with increasing urgency, eco-friendliness is on everyone’s mind. The average house can be extraordinarily wasteful with a massive impact on the local environment. While Energy Star appliances are a great start, there are other, even easier things we all can do to improve a home’s eco-friendliness.

Swap Out Your Light Bulbs

Light bulbs are one of the biggest money and energy wasters in your home as well as one of the easiest issues to fix. Many people purchase the cheapest bulbs on the shelves when shopping for lights. However, while traditional incandescent bulbs are cheaper up front, you’ll actually spend more on these bulbs over time.

LED bulbs last more than ten times longer than incandescent bulbs and use a fraction of the energy. Though they may cost extra up front, you will not need to purchase a new bulb for many years to come.

Invest in a Composter

There are many options for household composters. Some are small, inexpensive, and free-standing while others can be installed into your kitchen. Composting can cut your household garbage by up to 50 percent, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, and can be hugely beneficial for your yard, garden, and even potted plants.

A composter can seem like a less than appealing addition to your kitchen, but most emit little to no odor. If you use this compost for a vegetable garden, you are saving yourself more money and reducing your home’s footprint on the earth.

Plant a Tree

A great trick for reducing your utility bills is to visit your local nursery and purchase a shade tree. Large, leafy trees shield your home from the harsh sun and reduce the heat. Your cooling bills will drop as will your energy usage.

Furthermore, if you plant native trees, you are contributing to the local ecosystem. Plus, any landscaping you do will boost the value of your home. 

Look Into Aerators

Aerated appliances limit water waste. If you can’t afford to replace all your large appliances with aerated options, look into aerated shower heads and faucets. These are an affordable option that will have a significant impact on both your water bill as well as your home’s eco-friendliness.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. So, when you buy and throw away things like plastic drink bottles, baggies, and plastic wrap, they have a long-term impact on the environment. It’s cheaper for you and much better for the earth to use reusable drink bottles and containers. And when using plastic is unavoidable, be sure to recycle it.

Making your home eco-friendly doesn’t have to be challenging and expensive. Even choosing one of these tips will help your household budget and the environment. So, buy a shade tree or make your own compost, whatever you decide to do is a step in the right direction.

Paul Denikin is a father of two and an expert on home repair and home management. Visit his site: Dad Knows DIY.