Green Your Kids’ Back to School

Back to school!
Back to school!

Across the country, Labor Day informally marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. When kids head off to school, it’s a good time to think about the pads, notebooks and paper students use to learn all across the country.

Throughout education, paper is everywhere.

From the books in the library to the composition pads and math notebooks, paper is a fantastic and effective tool for learning.  We want to help you, though, to be aware of the choices that are out there. These choices are important, because by choosing recycled and Forest Stewardship Council certified paper made from responsibly managed forests, you limit your impact on the environment. It’s a great feeling to be able to buy your children’s school supplies and help protect important conservation values in the forests of the US South and around the world.

Dogwood Alliance and our colleagues in Environmental Paper Network have worked long and hard to advance the responsible purchasing of paper from the world’s forests as an extension of our environmental values and as a tool to drive improvement in the protection and management of the world’s forests. Our goals are expressed in the Global Paper Vision that is endorsed by over 120 organizations from around the world.

Are your school supplies recycled and FSC certified?
Are your school supplies recycled and FSC certified?

So what does this mean when parents are gathering supplies and sending their kids back to school?

First, see what you already have first. Check around the house for what you may already have on hand – unused school supplies from last year or maybe unneeded office supplies cluttering your desk.

If you need some new stuff, like my family did this year, buy supplies that are made from recycled materials or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). When picking up paper and pencils, look for the FSC logo. This ensures that the products come from responsibly managed forests.

What to look for: the FSC logo
What to look for: the FSC logo

Your choices really matter.

Because people like you care about our forests, Dogwood Alliance has been able to convince some of the largest retailers of paper in the world like Staples and Office Depot to commit to responsible paper procurement practices. As big customers started to demand recycled and FSC paper options, the forest products industry responded by improving their own environmental performance and offering greener products to the marketplace. After over a decade of conflict over the impact of industrial logging for paper production on the forests of the Southern US, Dogwood has a partnered with International Paper (IP), the world’s largest paper and packaging company, to advance forest conservation in the world’s largest paper-producing region. Though we were once foes, Dogwood has joined forces with IP to map and protect endangered forests, discourage the conversion of natural hardwood forests to pine plantations and expand FSC certification. You can also look forward to a new Green Grades report rating the wood procurement practices of the largest forest products companies operating in our region coming up this fall.

Every little bit helps.

When you make responsible choices with your back to school supplies, you’re making a real difference. So my daughter went back to middle school with green school supplies and purple hair. What more can a Dad ask for?

The Goldberg family on the first day of school!
The Goldberg family on the first day back to school!

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