'Green' options for school supplies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

'Green' options for school supplies

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MADISON (WKOW) -- It's a day of last minute shopping at the UW Bookstore on Madison's State Street, though fifth year senior Rochelle Affias isn't particularly looking for anything labeled 'green.'

"I really haven't thought about school supplies in that sense," she said. "I know my notebooks have always been the recycled ones because that's what my parents got me when I was younger."

Though there are plenty of eco-options out there is she chooses.

"We've seen these products move pretty fast, especially the paper products in the past," said Erin Lambert-Conohan, a marketing supervisor at the bookstore. She showed us the store's environmentally friendly offerings for school supplies. Most featured previously recycled paper with suggestions to recycle it again.

There is, however, a cost.  At the bookstore, a ream of 100-percent post-recycled paper goes for $11.95.  A ream of virgin paper costs $5.95, although a pack of 30-percent post-recycled content also costs $5.95.

A 'green' sketchpad with 100 sheets costs $14.95.  A traditional alternative is $11.95.

Then there's a three-ring binder made from recycled cardboard.  Its pricetag is $6.95.  Many comparable plastic binders cost $2.29.

It all makes the 12-packs of recycled and unpainted pencils a relative bargain.  Those were just 50- to 99-cents more costly than their typical yellow #2's.

"They tend to run more expensive, but people find that's important, so they tend to pay a little extra for recycled material," said Lambert-Conohan.

Similar story at west Madison Target on Junction Road.  You can buy a pencil bag made from re-used CapriSun juice containers.  The store also sells pencils themselves made from recycled denim or newspapers.

"I mean, you'll pay a little more, but if you're looking to go green, it's well worth it," said Brandon Brandner, a head line team leader.

Granted, there's a novelty, as well as noble intenions, to buying a pen where 80-percent of the plastic had a past life as car headlights, compact discs, or cellphones.

Affias, however, said she's rather save her green and focus on reducing her impact in other ways.  "I'm not exactly sure if I'd be able to invest that much more, but I know I've been taking notes in my computer and just not printing them off, which is good," she said.  Affias added that she has made a sacrafice in other ways by paying about an extra $8 a month as part of Madison Gas and Electric's Green Power Tomorrow program, which helps fund wind and solar power production.

Even if you don't buy a 'green' school supply, be prepared to still pay more as you get your kid ready for school.  The National Retail Federation estimates the overall cost of school items, including clothes and electronics, is up 5.5-percent this year compared to last.

CLICK HERE to email Down to Earth story ideas to Carl Agnelly.

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