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Sustainable Stationery for Starting School

Isla talks us through why it’s important to consider the impacts of plastic stationery products on the environment. She also shares some tips and recommends some eco-friendly products on the market that are best for when you have the planet in mind.

The environmental challenges our world faces become even more prominent with each passing day and making sustainable choices in our everyday lives is a small step we can all take to help Mother Nature. There are many ways we can reduce our ecological footprint, including reducing plastic waste and conserving energy, but perhaps a less obvious way to reduce our impact on the planet is by making better choices when we are doing our back to school shops.

Throughout the average household, pens will be found almost everywhere: on desk tops, kitchen tables, in various drawers, even behind sofa cushions. According to the USA’s EPA, 1.6 billion pens are tossed out annually, and that’s just one country! So how can we start to reduce our waste whilst still being able to work?

Range of stationery. Image Credit: Pxhere.

The Importance of Eco Stationery

Eco stationery encompasses a range of environmentally friendly stationery products, designed to minimise the impact that conventional stationery products have on our environment.

The construction of traditional paper is fueled by deforestation. Out of the 17 billion cubic feet of deforestation that occurs every year, 60% of these trees are used to make paper. Not only is this destroying the habitats of countless animals, worldwide deforestation is responsible for nearly one fifth of the world’s annual greenhouse gases. However, eco stationery often uses recycled or sustainably sourced materials, helping to preserve forests and restore biodiversity.

Not only does making paper cause deforestation, but the process is also highly energy intensive. The manufacturing process requires a large amount of heat energy in order to evaporate enough water to dry the pulp. Eco-friendly alternatives tend to use recycled paper rather than virgin paper, and so the manufacturing process uses less water and energy, whilst also reducing the amount of paper reaching landfill.

Bundles of paper waste. Image credit: Pxhere.

It’s not just paper-based products that can be sustainable, but other stationery too. One of the most important aspects of eco stationery is the aim to reduce the amount of products heading to landfill. This can be done by using refillable stationery, rather than disposable. Pens are a perfect example of how this can be done easily. Standard ball-point pens, which I’m sure most of us use, are disposable and chucked out as soon as they stop working. Popular refillable pens can include fountain pens, which provide a pleasant writing experience and are much more sustainable than your conventional pen.

Eco Stationery Products to Look Out For

Eco-Craft Recycled Kraft Notebooks

The kraft paper notebook cover adds a rustic design to these notebooks and are made from 100% recycled materials. They are perfect for jotting down lecture notes, sketches or journal entries and are a popular choice for eco-conscious individuals.

Parker Pens

Although these pens might be expensive, buying refillable cartridges alongside ink pots can save you money in the long run, whilst also staying sustainable by reducing the amount you waste. You can also choose the ink you use, and make a conscious decision to use eco-friendly, non-toxic ink.

Edding EcoLine Highlighters

Highlighters are a student essential, and Edding’s EcoLine highlighter range composed of 11 colours (both neon and pastel) are a perfect choice for an eco-friendly option. They have been awarded the Blue Angel eco-label, and are made of at least 90% renewable resources. They can also be reused and refilled time and time again, making them more economically viable for our student budgets.

In conclusion, I hope this has inspired you to be more conscious about the environmental impact of the stationery you buy. I would also like to mention that just because it is a new academic year, does not mean you have to buy loads of new stationery. I’m sure a lot of the stuff you used last year can continue to be used, so only buy what you actually need. You can also make digital notes rather than physical copies to try and reduce the amount of physical resources you consume over the year. If you would like to read more about what students can do to become more sustainable, check out our other article by Ani Talwar that focuses on students becoming carbon neutral!

About the Author: Isla Stubbs (she/her) has graduated from The University of York with a BSc in Environmental Science, and will be starting her PhD in Ecotoxicology at York in September.

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