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"Green" Back to School Supplies Easy to Find

By: Myles Henderson Email
By: Myles Henderson Email

July 29th, 2009

As July comes to a close it's time for stores to roll out "back to school" sales. This year when you're filling your cart with supplies take some time to look around at some of the greener products out there.

There are a wide range of green products, from pens and pencils to paper. But probably the coolest products this year are pencils made from recycled tires. "It's something that's unusual, you wouldn't normally think to walk into a store and find pencils that are made out of recycled tire products," says Ryan Laos, General Manager of Staples in Charlottesville.

Also available are highlighters made from 54% post consumer recycled plastics and are refillable. Laos says, "The cartridges themselves are refillable, that's something you don't see. Usually you use them, throw them away and that's over."

Then there's paper. Lindsay Snoddy from Albemarle County Public Schools says, "I think trying to get the highest percentage of post- consumer recycled product in paper is one of the biggest pushes now because you're actually taking the paper that we recycle in the schools." In additon to 100% recycled copy paper, some notebooks are now being made from a more rapidly renewable resource: sugarcane. Green shoppers can also look for notebooks made from plant fiber waste left over from processing sugarcane.

"Another thing is to buy locally and try to do all of your shopping in one trip. That will definitely reduce gas costs and help the environment," suggests Snoddy. "There are a lot of customers coming in looking specifically to get the recycled products.. There is a big push for it. People are looking for them daily now. It's fantastic," adds Laos.

The first weekend in August is the perfect time to check out these green products, tax free. Virginia's back-to-school sales tax holiday begins Friday, August 7th and runs through Sunday the 9th. School supplies costing $20 or less and clothing items costing $100 or less will be exempt from the 5 percent sales tax.

This includes items like pencils, pens, binders, paints, musical instruments and calculators, as well as pants, shirts, formal wear, shoes, flip-flops, and even uniforms. A lists of exempt items, along with guidelines for the sales tax holiday and a set of frequently asked questions, are available on the tax department's sales tax holiday information center at

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