Alternative Paper Supplies
Once upon a time, shopping for school supplies was about as simple as asking your children whether they wanted the blue one or the red one. With only a few basic materials required to tide them over — reams of paper, a pack of pencils and perhaps even a spare eraser — they were good to go, no fuss, no muss. There was never even talk of school bags or knapsacks when a pencil case and two arms hugging everything together worked like a charm. Unbeknownst to mothers and fathers everywhere, those were actually the halcyon days of parenthood. In the year 2010, the mere mention of the phrase “back to school” can sometimes send today’s parents into a fit of hysteria, and not just because they’re forced to battle insane Christmas Eve-like crowds at the store. If they haven’t already secured a second job to bankroll the entire school supply kit and kaboodle, there’s always household liquidation and/or selling pints of blood to pull it all off. Education is big business. We’re talking about a brave new world in which kiddies drag wheeled Samsonite luggage behind them (clocking in at twice their body weight) in order to accommodate the scads of electronic devices, textbooks and organizational systems necessary for modern day academic success. Peruse your child’s school supply list and if you take a quick tally, you’ll be lucky to escape the stores without plunking down at least one or two crisp new Benjamins. However, no matter the decade, the one constant for students has and will probably always be paper. Loose leaf, notepads, spiral-bound notebooks, sticky notes — name your tree pulp poison! Even with all of the laptops and iPads in the world, paper is sheer academic currency, and let’s face it: Students will always want to scribble something down when their batteries croak. With a greater awareness of how tapping forests beyond sustainable levels compromises our natural environment, manufacturers are now producing a more diverse variety of alternative paper supplies that are easier on Mother Nature. If you ever wondered of a simple step you could take to green your child’s back-to-school supplies list, purchasing eco-friendly paper alternatives would be it. If for any reason you or your children are paper purists, one of the most intriguing options on the market today is Michael Roger’s Decomposition Books (modeled after traditional composition-style notebooks), because even though they are composed of 100% tree goodness, it’s entirely of the post-consumer waste kind. To up the green ante, this eco-darling is produced using biogas, printed with soy ink and processed with no chlorine. Even better, comprehensive details about the planetary impact of each notebook are emblazoned for all to read on the inside front and back covers. Fancy going tree-free? Then you have multiple unique options to choose from, such as sanitized elephant dung fiber paper and agro-industrial waste paper using banana plant fibers — all readily available at major retailers such as Target, Office Max, Office Depot and Staples. Staples even offers something that you don’t see every day: standard-sized composition books, one-subject notebooks, writing pads and sticky notes made with 80% sugarcane waste (also called bagasse), printed with environmentally friendly water- and vegetable-based inks. Taking notes on a blank, paper-free canvas is not just a small step for tree-kind — it’s also a simple way to make a huge eco-statement that with enough consumer backing will hopefully make virgin pulp a thing of the past.