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From Trash to Fab

Tampa Bay Parenting ArticlesTerracyle gives packaging new life as school tools

It’s back-to-school time and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the shopping you have to do, especially if you want to be eco-friendly.

You needn’t worry. Companies like TerraCycle are making back-to-school shopping and green living compatible and easy.

Founded in 2001 by Tom Szaky, then a freshman at Princeton University, TerraCycle helps keep the planet clean by making products from what most people think of as trash. The materials that TerraCycle uses are nonrecyclable, which means they would sit in a landfill forever.

In 2007, TerraCycle began fundraising brigades. The free program for companies that want to be green boasts more than 60,000 locations and 7 million people who participate. The idea is to mail in items that cannot be recycled, such as Capri Sun pouches, and make them into useful tools. TerraCycle pays for the postage and pays 2 cents to a charity of the participants’ choosing for returning these items.

TerraCycle has collected 1.75 billion units of nonrecyclable material from participating companies such as Colgate, Ziploc, Neosporin, Aveeno, Oscar Mayer Lunchables and Promise, among others.

From the materials, TerraCycle makes backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil/pen bags and other supplies that children can use in school.

But keeping the planet clean isn’t just about companies. Families and individuals can participate in brigades as well. You can even choose a school to receive the donations from TerraCycle.

If you’re not interested in joining a brigade, the cool school supplies are a wonderful way to help the environment.

Visit to learn more.

Shopping Green

Going green is hip and stylish but it’s not a fad we should let fade away. Be proud of working to make the world a better place to live and your kids will be, too. There are several ways to keep green as you get your child ready for school.

  • Reuse materials from the previous school year that are still in good condition.
  • Buy eco-friendly backpacks that are PVC-free and made from recycled materials.
  • Look for soybean crayons, recycled pencils and tree-free notebooks.
  • Visit thrift and consignment shops to look for gently-used clothing. You also can trade clothes at stores such as Plato’s Closet.
  • Look for stainless steel lunch boxes or ones made from recycled materials.
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