Eco-Friendly Office Supplies


Here’s an example of some of the free goodies you might be able to find in the Office Supply Share! (Image courtesy of The Office of Sustainability)

With finals only a week away, you may be considering going out and buying some new office supplies to start studying. Pencils and post-its and note cards, oh my, there’s quite a long list when it comes to office supply needs! Unfortunately, many brands of office supplies bought from the store are not sustainably sourced, and some are made to be one-time uses to be used and thrown away. When it comes to sustainability advice however, we’re here to help! Here’s a list of things to look for when shopping for all your office supply needs:

The Sourcing of Your Paper


This is one of the logos to try to keep an eye out for when searching for new notebooks and paper products. (Image courtesy of Google Images)

Looking at the small print on the label of whatever you buy is important for anytime you shop. It helps you know whether the product was made and sourced responsibly, which is very important when shopping for paper. If you are shopping for notebooks, look closely at what it is really made from. Is it recycled paper? If so, what’s the percentage? In most cases, there are no specific rules for how much a paper product needs to have in terms of recycled content to make it “recycled,” which is why when you look at the label, the higher the percentage the better! If you are buying notebooks that are not made from recycled paper does it specify that it was sourced responsibly? If you are buying notebooks that aren’t from recycled sources it’s good to look for Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) on the labels, that way you will know whether the company cares about the ecosystems they are sourcing their paper from! If you want a list of notebooks that are eco-friendly, check out these: Eco Friendly Notebooks

Pencils & Pens


This is the “Sprout” pencil! Each has a different seed at the base so you can plant it when the pencil gets too short. (Image courtesy of Google Images)

Due to their size, people don’t really consider used writing utensils as having that much of an environmental impact, but let’s face it, that pen you once loved (before it ran out of ink) has a dark side. Most pens you buy from the office supply store are made to be thrown away, and very few can be recycled by traditional means. Luckily, Knox has an option for recycling used writing utensils (drop them in one of the non-traditional recycling collection containers), but it is still important to consider what you are buying beforehand! One of the first downsides of disposable pens is the fact that they are plastic. These crude oil contraptions either end up in a landfill or worse, float away to pollute our rivers and oceans. When given the choice, always remember to REUSE. Always use up the writing utensils you have to their fullest extent before going out to buy another, and if you do end up buying new, check the source! If you are curious about the pencils displayed in the picture above, these smashing scribblers are pretty neat! At the base of each pencil is a seed you can plant, and the end of the pencil can be used as a marker! You can find more info here:
Sprout Pencil

Here’s also some how to properly recycle your used office supplies:

Non-Traditional Recycling Information

When it comes to pens, consider getting a refillable ink option. That way you don’t have to worry about throwing away when it’s empty, simply add more ink! Here’s also a list of more eco-friendly writing utensils:

Sustainable Pencils & Pens



Craft Potential

Before you throw away your old office supplies, check to see if there might be a use for them! The image on the upper left is of a clock made from rolled up recycled paper, and the one on the right is made from colored pencils! These are pretty time consuming projects, but if you are feeling artsy there are quite a few crafts you can make from recycled paper products! Knox donates their discarded pens to The Pen Guy. What started as a project to cover his car in over 10,000 pens, turned into a  way to make his art more available to the public by creating works of art that could be displayed in galleries and public places. Check out some of his art here: Pen Guy Art


Office Supply Share

Before you do any office supply shopping, make sure you check the Knox Office Supply Share first! It’s located in the basement of Seymour and serves as the lobby for the Office of Sustainability. There are a plethora of pens and pencils as well as notebooks, three ring binders, folders, paper clips and more!


More than anything, remember the 3 R’s when you are doing your office supply shopping! Reduce the amount of materials you buy. Reuse any papers or objects that you can. And lastly, make sure to properly recycle what’s left over! Speaking of which, on Friday March 10th the Office of Sustainability is having a Recycling Roundup! Stop by and dispose of your notes properly for the chance to win a prize!



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