Back-to-School Report Card: Eco-Friendly School Supplies

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Fail: Many contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride), the most environmentally hazardous plastic. (It’s also found in sneakers and boots.)

Pass: Choose a hemp or recycled rubber backpack from:


Fail: Tree-wasting paper that’s bleached with chlorine (creates dioxins).

Pass: Post-consumer content recycled paper that’s unbleached or tree free:


Fail: Markers and glue that emit toxic VOCs; crayons containing petroleum products.

Pass: Soybean crayons, natural glue, biodegradable cornstarch pens, recycled rulers, reclaimed-wood pencils, water-based highlighters and markers:


Fail: Electronics that contain toxic flame retardants called PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers).

Pass: Several manufacturers, including Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, Motorola, NEC, Sony, and Toshiba, have eliminated PBDEs. (Matsushita/Panasonic is removing brominated flame retardants in 2006.)

For more about safe school supplies, check The Green Guide, a source for practical and reliable environmental health reporting and product reviews.