eco-friendly office supplies
Even the smallest choices can have a huge impact. (Illustration by Alexa Finkelstein, Pratt Institute)
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eco-friendly office supplies

Tired: Disposable pens and pencils. Wired: Sustainable, eco-friendly office supplies.

Being environmentally conscious has everything to do with awareness and even more to do with action and implementation. Many brands are adopting sustainability practices and developing earth-friendly values to offset our impact on the planet, and according to a recent study, around 73% of millennials are willing to pay more for eco-friendly office supplies rather than their usual products.

College students tend to go through multiple notebooks, pens, pencils and other supplies throughout their years attending classes, and the material waste is adding up.

Here are 11 innovative, eco-friendly office supplies to replace outdated gear.

Decomposition Books

Michael Roger, a family-owned and -operated business, is renowned for their eco-friendly notebooks and collection of eco-friendly office supplies. Decomposition Books are recognizable by their whimsical, nature-oriented illustrations and size variation.

The notebooks, ranging between $5 and $10, are made of “100% post-consumer-waste recycled paper” and printed with soy ink to provide for a unique, sustainable take on traditional spiral-bound notebooks.

Biodegradable Bamboo Pen

In 2005, Bic sold its 100 billionth disposable pen since the company’s launch in the early ’50s. Many of those pens now sit in landfills, but the development of biodegradable pens has taken a rise in recent decades.

Bamboo pens are a sustainable alternative to plastic, non-reusable pens. Earth Greetings, a company with the mission to use earth-friendly products and reduce waste, is the creator of Bamboo Pen.

The Bamboo Pen, unlike ordinary pens, is refillable, made of biodegradable bamboo and costs just under $10, giving you a longer lifespan for perhaps the most useful of eco-friendly office supplies.

Skateboard Recycled USB

7PLIS is a brand that started out making eyeglasses from old, recycled skateboards. Their company has started using their signature material to create their products, such as pens, rings, chess pieces, watches and yes, USBs. The USB has gotten smaller, gained the capability to hold more storage and been given eco-friendly features over the past few years.

While bamboo and wooden USB flash drives have biodegradable properties, 7PLIS upcycles wooden skateboards (rather than cutting down a new tree to make the product) to make a biodegradable and eco-friendly flash drive.

Compostable Phone Cases and Screen Protectors

Phone cases are manufactured with a variety of materials ranging from plastic and polyurethane to leather and carbon fiber. In 2010, Pela Case founder Jeremy Lang’s experience with plastic pollution on a Hawaiian vacation sparked the idea for a company creating compostable phone cases.

Pela phone cases are made from compostable bioplastic elastomer and flax straw materials, meaning these cases are 100% compostable after use rather than being sent to a landfill. The company also released the world’s first waste-free liquid screen protector.

Since the company’s start, Pela has prevented over 140,000 pounds of plastic from being produced. Costing around $30, Pela makes a good case for buying an eco-friendly phone cover.

Waste-Free Stapler

Billions of individual staples are sold every year, but new waste-free staplers are changing the game. Paper Clinch has designed a new, staple-less stapler that makes recycling easier. Rather than using up staples that would last hundreds of years in a landfill, this innovative stapler cuts and folds the paper to attach up to five pieces of paper.

While this stapler is perfect for cutting down on waste, it also makes recycling easier and less of a hassle by eliminating the need to remove staples before shredding and recycling. Costing between $10 and $11, the Paper Clinch makes for a more affordable, eco-friendly office supply.

Wood-Free Pencils

Each year, 15 billion pencils are made, which results in the cutting down of at least 60,000 trees. Treewise Pencils are manufacturing pencils made from 100% recycled newspapers. Their company also recently launched plantable pencils, which can be planted to grow vegetables, spices and other plants.

Treewise-recycled newspaper pencils come as a pack of 10 for $6 and the plantables run a little steeper, but upcycling always outweighs deforestation.

Reusable Water Bottles

In 2016, the amount of plastic, single-use water bottles sold each year increased by 180 billion over the course of 10 years, rising from 300 billion in 2006 to 480 billion. The easiest way to tackle the overwhelming, incessant production of plastic bottles is to use ethically-made, reusable water bottles.

EarthLust stainless steel water bottles are ethically produced, made with non-toxic, water-safe materials and are, above all, stylish. These eco-chic bottles, costing around $19 each, are helping to keep the planet healthy by eliminating waste and the need for plastic bottles.

Vegan Laptop Case

Laptop cases are a staple item for any college student with a laptop. The Kraft Paper laptop case by By Copala, an Etsy store manufacturing products from natural materials such as cork and leaves, is a vegan, water-resistant and washable laptop case made from kraft paper and cotton. The case has a leather-like appearance and costs about $61.

Eco Highlighter Pencil

Annotating and highlighting is integral to understanding text, and the Earth Greetings Eco Highlighter Pencil is meant to replace plastic highlighters. The highlighter pencil is long-lasting, non-bleeding, biodegradable and made of sustainable timber and safe clay. Though the pencil costs $6, it would outlast plastic-cased highlighters.

Upcycled Backpack

Re-Kånken is a monochromatic backpack collection “made entirely of polyester recycled from 11 water bottles.”

This functional bag made by Fjällräven, a company developing products from sustainable materials, ranges just below $100, but they are designed to be passed on and recycled.

Greener Post-It Notes

Post-it Greener Notes are a greener, more eco-friendly version of the original sticky note. Made with “67% plant-based adhesive and 100% recycled material,” Greener Notes are entirely recyclable and don’t require trees to be made.

With three collections — Bora Bora, Bali and Helsinki — these sticky notes come in different color sets and run close to the prices of the original sticky notes.

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