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School supply stock up time for EnviroMom

Green-pencils We've been stalking our mail carrier for weeks, hoping for the letters to come. You know: the school letters. Not the ones that will tell us if our kids got into Stanford or anything. But who their teachers are for next year! Are we not a sad and somewhat pathetic bunch, that this obsesses us so? I swear. It's not just me. Every mom I know has talked about this for weeks: 'When are the letters going to come?' 'Who do your kids want for their teacher?' It really amazes me that we moms care so much when the kids are oblivious to it all and just basking in the joy of unstructured summer days. But it is what it is. We are pathetic. Enough said.

Along with the letters informing us who our kids' teachers will be, we got the school supply lists. This is only our third year in public school, so the first year, I used the online ordering service provided by Schoolhouse Supplies -- a local nonprofit that takes office supply donations and gives them to teachers whose students are in need of pencils, paper, erasers, you name it. Great org, and on top of that fantastic service to teachers, they also put together packages of some local schools' requested school supplies -- following the teachers' list to a T -- to save us moms and dads the time, effort and money of comparison shopping and driving from store to store looking for just the right pink eraser that the teacher has requested.

Last year, I decided that this big britches EnviroMom could spend less than Schoolhouse Supplies was selling the package of goods at, and I could do it greener! Ha! Major mistake. I spent about the same, or maybe more. And I only found about three items that I could do 'greener': some unpainted pencils with FSC wood certification, a ream of paper with 100% recycled content, and some hand sanitizer made with natural ingredients that didn't include nasty triclosan. I also then obsessed that I probably didn't get the right things, and that the teacher might be pissed at me, and I didn't want her not liking my kid from the get-go. Plus, I did end up hitting a few stores to try to find the best deals and greenest stuff. Mea culpa! Big mistake!

This year, I'm going with Schoolhouse Supplies. I won't even try to improve upon the bulk purchasing they can do. But I'm also going to give some feedback -- that we'd love to see recycled content and greener products, if possible. I also will give a shout out to our school's teachers who gave parents the option this year on whether or not to buy the Clorox disposable wipes. Clearly, this had to have come from parent feedback at our Oregon Green School. Yay, positive change!!

OK. And one last thing while I'm on the schoolhouse supplies topic. I've noticed that there are convenient lists at the stores with recommendations on school supplies by grade level. What's up with that? Since we didn't get our actual list until yesterday, these are just random shots in the dark on what teachers might want your kid to supply. Nice for the store if the store sells more product to people than they actually want or need. But lame-o in my opinion. Please forgive my crabbiness. It's still unholy hot here. May hit an all time high record of 107 degrees today. Wah!

How will you supply your kids with green schooolhouse supplies this year?

Want to read more about greening back-to-school? The Green Moms' Carnival is focusing its varied and wonderful takes on this topic this month.


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