One benefit of my children attending a one room school house is we don’t get the ubiquitous back to school list of school supplies. There’s no place to shop for these supplies in our little town of 200, and most families could not afford the extensive list common to suburban schools. No matter where they live, one thing all children need for school is pencils, but what is the most eco-friendly option for these graphite writing utensils?
Pencils are made from wood, and although it is hard to imagine forests are clearcut for the little bit of wood in a pencil, they are. Many pencil manufacturers buy their wood from Sierra Pacific Industries, which is notorious for irresponsible logging practices, such as clearcutting and use of herbicides on plantations. Forturnately, Forest Ethics has rated pencil manufacturers on the amount of pre- and post-consumer recycled content in their products, whether they are made Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber, and whether the lumber is purchased from Sierra Pacific Industries. According to Josh Buswell-Charkow of Forest Ethics:
Parents don’t want their children using pencils which degrade California’s landscape, drinking water, or species, and the top companies on our report card show that there’s a better way. Those big companies that earned ‘F’s, however, are like the students in the back of the class with pencils in their ears and their heads in the clouds while the rest of the class leaves them behind.
PENCIL GRADES REPORT SUMMARY:
Greenline Paper Company: A
Green Apple: C
Paper Mate: C
USA Gold: F
We need to consider the impact of even the smallest items we purchase on our environment. There is no reason to make pencils from clearcut forests. As far as greening your child’s back to school list, remember you don’t have to buy everything new on the list. Your child can use the crayons, scissors, rulers, etc. he/she already owns. You will save money and your child will learn to the importance of even small decision on our environment.
Image: Forest Ethics