Local News

Staying 'green' while going back to school

Posted August 24, 2009 7:55 a.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2009 8:41 a.m. EDT

— Parents have a big selection of environmentally-friendly products from which to chose during back-to-school shopping.

Clare Harwood, a middle-school English teacher, said green products are at the top of her list when shopping for her New York City classroom.

"We need to go green. There's so much going on with the environment right now, it's kind of crazy how much an impact you can have by buying recycled paper," Harwood said.

Forty percent of all trash in the United States comes from paper, and schools are a major source of paper, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A Staples Inc. representative said sales for "green" school products are up. Choices include paper made from sugar cane, crayons from soy and pencils from recycled tires.

Those pencils caught the eye of shopper Cheyenne Morales, who was excited by the product but a little skeptical.

"I think it's pretty good. I want to see how good the quality is," Morales said.

Price is also a consideration for shoppers, and "green" products can be more expensive. Retailers said there's a limit to how much consumers are willing to pay to be environmentally friendly.

"They don't mind paying a little bit more but definitely not double the price," Justin Faye, with West Side Stationers, said.

To save money as she shops for her teenagers every year, Mary Isakson uses three Rs: reuse, reduce, recycle.

"Taking last year's notebooks, maybe they're not fresh enough to go back to school, but they might be great for doing scratchwork for doing homework," she said.

Isakson said the process also teaches the next generation about making smart choices for the environment.