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Why My Purse is Green

Because I believe…

  • the fastest, most effective way to stop polluters is by pressuring them in the marketplace
  • women can be the world’s most powerful economic and environmental force if we intentionally shift our spending to the best green products and services
  • women have the power right now to solve many of our most serious environmental problems by using our green purses to make a difference
  • women must act – intentionally, collectively, and with the full force of our purse power behind us – if we hope to leave our children and grandchildren a better world.
  • « My test-drive of the all-electric Nissan Leaf - On a scale of One to Ten, I give it a ... | Main | Want to Inspire Your Kids to Go Green At School? Here's How. »

    Green Back-to-School Supplies: Part 1 - Pens, Pencils, Crayons, Markers

    Girl Kids eat crayons. They chew on pencils. They sniff markers. And pens? Sure, kids use them for writing - on their skin, not necessarily paper.

    In other words, as weird as it may sound, you need to treat the tools kids use to compose or color the same way you'd treat the food they eat: with attention to the ingredients they're made from and the impact they're going to have on your kids' health.

    That means looking for supplies free of lead-based pigments, synthetic fragrances, solvents like methyl alcohol and toluene, formaldehyde, and other nasty chemicals you'd never serve as part of a meal or snack. Here are links to responsible supplies that won't make your kids sick when they do take a bite or decide to paint a Picasso on their arm.

    Pens - Pens cross the environmental line in two ways. Their ink usually contains chemicals that have no human health benefit; and they're usually made from throwaway plastic. In fact, a pen is one of those school supplies that subliminally teaches kids it's ok to waste, since we're so used to buying them in packs of 10 or 20 and tossing them into the trash even before they're completely used up.

    DBA pen Fortunately, DBA Pens have come to the rescue. The DBA 98 is 98% biodegradable, made in the USA using wind power, and filled with an ink made from water, nontoxic pigments, vegetable-based glycerin, and sodium benzoate, a food-grade preservative.

    A decent alternative is a refillable pen, like the ones we sell in our Amazon store. While I can't vouch for the safety of the ink, at least a refillable reduces plastic waste. Plus, it's easy to find refillables at most office supply stores.

    Pencils Pencils - Fortunately, most pencils kids use today are made of graphite, not the more dangerous "lead" that they're commonly described as. The most eco-friendly pencils are also made from recycled paper, wood, or cardboard. (NOTE: Some pencils are being made from recycled tires, but consumer reviews thus far indicate that they're not easy to sharpen or use.) Given the fact that a pencil can be used almost completely, and can be more easily recycled than plastic in some communities, it generates less waste than a pen or marker. If kids have an option, using a pencil is better than a pen. Using a reusable mechanical pencil, which replaces the "lead" but not the entire pencil, is a good option for older kids; there's no environmental benefit to using a throwaway mechanical pencil.

    Crayons - I'm a big fan of crayons made from beeswax or soy, rather than the usual petroleum-based paraffin. The colors and texture are rich, and they pose no health or environmental threats to the kids who use them.

    Markers - Look for markers whose low- or no-toxicity has been certified by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Even then, give markers the "sniff" test. If you take off the cap and find the odor overwhelming, don't use the marker, and definitely don't give it to your child: chances are, it contains xylene, toluene or other chemicals that cause nausea, headaches and in some cases have been linked to cancer (why they're still allowed in any kind of marker or product is beyond me!). Choose water-soluble, no VOC markers if you can find them, or colored pencils as highlighters.

    Natural paint for kids Paints - When buying kids' paints, look for no- or low-voc, water-based products, preferably certified non-toxic by an independent third party and made in the U.S. Some good choices:

     - Nature-of-Art's certified non-toxic, water-based acrylic paints. Here's an additional link to everything you want to know about nontoxic paints.

    -Eco-Kids Natural Plant Dye Fingerpaint, made in the U.S.A

    -Clementine Art Natural Paint


    Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Give this "make your own fingerpaint" recipe a try (and let me know how you like it, ok?).


    Want More? Shop Our Amazon Store.

    We've compiled links to these and other eco-friendly school supplies on our "Back to School" store on Amazon (NOTE: we earn a small commission on purchases here that help pay our research and writing costs.) Have we missed a safe product you love? Let us know.


    Related Posts:

    Check Out Maggie's Organic for Back-to-School Fashions

    Taming the Back-to-School Shopping Beast

    Students Start Food Fight So They Can Have Reusable Lunch Trays

    Going Back to School? Go Green to Save Hundreds of Dollars

    Lunch Boxes Should be Safe and Environmentally Friendly


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    There are school supplies which are eco-friendly and safe for kids to use.

    radii supras

    I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.

    Clark Adams

    Companies should make sure that school supplies are free of chemicals and lead. The importance of safety cannot be emphasized enough, especially when it comes to children.

    Back to school supplies

    Great ideas, I had no idea that school supplies could be "green." I'll have to remember that for next year.

    office furniture nyc

    More and more mothers are making the switch from harmful school supplies to eco friendly, kid safe ones. Kudos to those who support this advocacy!

    router bits

    This is a good idea. I hope that a lot of people will support this kind of advocacy. Let's start using eco-friendly tools and products not only for our children but also for our mother earth.

    Diane MacEachern


    Jordan Pas Cher

    Je vais recommander à mes amis de lire ceci. Je suis tout à fait sûr qu'ils vont apprendre beaucoup de choses de nouveau ici que quiconque.

    New Mexico Walls Tanya

    Parents should be aware of the points you have given here! I think we're fortunate that the industry has shifted to less toxic and more recyclable materials. :)

    Belle Thomson

    Awesome blog and useful information. We always buy beeswax crayons for our children. Thanks for sharing.

    Diane MacEachern

    Glad to hear it, Belle!

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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