Product, Service & Design Innovation
Sustainable School Supplies Startup Enters $5.6 Billion Market

Just in time for back-to-school season, eco-friendly school supplies company Green ABCs has launched a new line of supplies, which help minimize waste with recycled materials, renewable resources and innovations in biodegradability.

The company’s co-founder and CEO, Beth Davies, says she was compelled to help start the company after finding it difficult to find eco-friendly school supplies for her son. With a widening gap between classroom supply needs and adequate funding provided from school budgets, parents, teachers and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) increasingly are making up this difference in school supplies.

In fact, it is estimated that the above groups will spend more than $5.6 billion this fall. Parents are spending almost $4 billion, or an average of $100 a student, with teachers adding another $1.6 billion of their own money for the school supplies necessary for classrooms across the US.

Keeping up with this demand puts a major strain on natural resources, and trees in particular. It is estimated that schools spend almost $2 billion annually across the US on paper alone, with the average class using between 30,000 and 50,000 sheets each – or the equivalent of 5 trees per classroom a year. The 53 million school-aged children in the US use enough pencils to require the harvesting of 7,800 trees each year. Any effort to reduce deforestation should be welcomed, although many businesses still fail to recognize its risk to their supply chains, according to CDP.

To make things easy for parents and teachers, Green ABCs offers kits designed to provide a year's worth of school supplies in one-stop-shop process. Kits come in standard versions and are available in custom options for individual schools and classrooms.

Students and schools, as major consumers in their own right, offers a major opportunity for sustainability. Recognizing this, Recyclebank announced last year its backing of some 27 environmental projects at schools across the country through the Recyclebank Green Schools Program, which supports environmental projects that make a positive impact on students and their communities. Each year, the program awards environmental project grants to schools in Recyclebank communities. Together, these schools, their students and communities work to encourage residents to donate Recyclebank Points, which the company later transfers into real dollars for schools — turning a community’s green actions into funds for local schools.

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