Going green for school is cool! Practice this year’s new set of 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – by selecting eco-friendly school supplies, now more important than ever considering the following:
– Americans produce about 4.54 pounds of garbage per person, per day. (source: EPA)
– Paper and packaging account for the greatest amount of waste in a landfill, about 34 percent. Newspapers alone account for 14 percent. (source: EPA)
– Plastics make up 11.8 percent of landfill waste, metals 7.6 percent and wood 5.7%. (source: EPA)
– In one typical New York City school, paper alone generated 28 pounds per year per student and teacher. (source: The greenguide.com)
– It can take as long as 450 years for an ink cartridge to decompose in a landfill. (source: Clear Water Conservancy)
– Every year in the United States each person uses the equivalent of one tree, 100 feet tall and 16 inches in diameter, to fulfill their wood and paper needs. (source: agday.org)
Reduce waste. The single most important effort you can make is to reduce waste, especially paper. Keeping paper out of landfills also reduces the amount of methane gas, a byproduct of decomposing paper and a potent greenhouse gas. Always be sure to use both sides of the paper, think twice before printing out hard copies of emails or websites, and proofread documents on the computer screen rather than printing out hard copies to edit.
Reuse. Ditch the disposable paper sacks and throwaway plastic utensils and instead pack lunches in a lunchbox or reusable container. Reuse your ink cartridges. The vast majority are used just once and tossed out, yet every cartridge refilled is one less cartridge in the landfill.
Donate. Most office furniture that is usually discarded by companies can actually be reused at schools and home offices. Look for a way to donate your file cabinets and other office furniture before throwing it away.
Recycle and Buy Recycled. Partner with your school to start or expand its recycling program for supplies as well as cafeteria waste like milk cartons, aluminum cans and plastic and glass bottles. While recycling is important, it’s equally important to buy recycled products. Top on the list is paper. In addition to reducing the amount of landfill waste, recycled paper does not need re-bleaching, so fewer harmful chemicals are released. Recycled pencils, made of reclaimed wood from old bridges, railroad ties and buildings, are all the rage this year. Even the eraser is rubber-tree free. Look for eco-friendly companies that use recycled materials in their products and packaging and offer recycling programs on their products, especially ink and toner cartridges.
With these tips in mind and you’ll be on your way to earning an A+ in this year’s new 3Rs in no time. Your local school supply store has a wide range of environmentally-friendly products from which to choose. Just ask.