Start kids back to school with eco-friendly gear
From hemp backpacks and reusable lunch bags to "green" pens and hats made of recycled soda bottles, a host of earth-friendly products is available for kids getting ready to go back to school.
As you get ready to send your little greeniuses back to school, here are some Northwest companies or branch stores that promise their products will promote the new Three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle:
• West Seattle moms Becky Harper and Karen Whorton, tired of tossing out plastic sandwich bags, designed ReUsies — nylon-lined cotton bags with Velcro closures — and field-tested them on the kids at Lafayette Elementary School. Pack sandwiches in the large size, snacks in the smaller version, then rinse or wash and use again. Priced at $6.50 and $8.50; find them at Bartell Drug stores, Georgia Blu in West Seattle, Mrs. Cooks in University Village or online at www.reusies.com.
• Seattle-based Sustainable Group makes "upcyclable" pens from plants, not plastic, and binders from Forest Stewardship Council-certified recycled corrugated cardboard, with reusable 3-ring mechanisms. A green alternative to vinyl binders, the brown ReBinders are hand-assembled by developmentally disabled workers. When the ReMarks pens run out of ink, Sustainable Group can grind them up to make new pens. Products are sold in bulk online at www.rebinder.com — $49.50 per case of 10 two-inch binders, 50 pens for $23.99 — or individually at local retail outlets such as Goods for the Planet.
• Our Globo of Seattle sells a jacket fashioned from recycled polyester for the kindergarten and preschool set, and supports the Sustainable Schools Initiative to teach environmental stewardship. The ECO-GO jackets, which fold and tuck into backpacks, are $34.95 online at www.ourglobo.com or at many stores listed on the company's Web site.
• There's a reason Peter Julber calls his nifty fleece hats BottleCaps. The ultra-plush fleece fabric is made, in part, from recycled plastic soda bottles; there's at least one 1-liter bottle in every hat. His Portland company, Cagoule Fleece, makes a Half-pint line for kids, available at www.cagoulefleece.com and many Seattle-area outlets. Among the offerings are $18.99 hats and $19.99 Ulti-Mitts gloves.
• Tara Smith's Revival Ink features Fair Trade clothing made from organic cotton, bamboo and recycled fabrics, hand-printed in Seattle with hip, tattoo-like designs using water-based inks. The Flowerfly hoodie sells for $45 at the Fremont Market or on the company's Web site, www.revivalink.com, which also lists several area retail stores.
• BumbleBars are the creation of a Spokane company that is serious about social and environmental responsibility, creating living-wage jobs, working with farmer-owned cooperatives, reducing waste and using recycled shipping boxes. The all-organic, vegan, gluten-free snacks, handy for school lunches, can be purchased online at www.bumblebar.com — $28 for a 15-bar variety box — and at many area stores.
• Platypus-brand BPA- and phthalate-free collapsible water bottles were created by Seattle's own outdoor innovator, Cascade Designs, and help keep disposable plastic bottles out of landfills. The ½ liter Platy Sport Water Bottle is small enough to slip into a jacket pocket or school backpack and sells for $6.95 at many outdoor retailers, such as REI, www.platy.com or www.cascadedesigns.com.
• Patagonia uses fabrics made of recycled soda bottles, fabric seconds and worn-out garments in many of its designs, including the roomy, $140 Dawn Patrol backpack, advertised as 100 percent recycled polyester. Check it out at www.patagonia.com or at Patagonia Seattle, 2100 First Ave.
• Hemp grows fast and in poor soil, so without much need for fertilizers or pesticides it's a crop that ranks high up on the sustainability list. Backpacks made from hemp, like the $41 Hemp H2O Mini Pack, are made in Guatemala by a local family and sold through Bainbridge Island's Hempmania at www.hempmania.com.
Mary Rothschild is a former Seattle Times editor.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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