A bow from a birthday present. Two magazines. A cloth diaper. A plastic sandwich bag and a reusable one. A reusable water bottle and a disposable bottle. A cereal box. A newspaper. TreeSmart colored pencils. Used packaging.
I laid this list of items in front of my Girl Scout troop last night and asked what they had in common. They looked confused, then one Brownie pointed to the cereal box and offered, “painting?” To her surprise, I said, “Yes! Some of these items can be reused as art supplies.”
We picked up the items one by one, talking about how we could reduce our waste, reuse an item, or recycle/re-purpose it. When I reached for the Tree Smart colored pencils, everyone was intrigued. I said, “Did you know that you can recycle a newspaper and it can be made into a pencil?” We then talked about how an Oregon company, TreeSmart, wraps old newspapers around graphite to create a pencil.
We often discuss the importance of recycling, but leave out the details of how recycled materials become something new again. TreeSmart provided a tangible example for the girls, with one broad sheet of newspaper making up to three pencils and one Sunday newspaper creating more than 200. The girls, and their parents, loved thinking about how a newspaper can have a new life in a product that most of us use daily. We then went on to make Halloween treat buckets using recycled materials.
TreeSmart invited my family to try their pencils, golf sized colored pencil set, and ruler, Each of these products is made with recycled materials, including the rulers comprised of ground up newspapers and regrind plastic materials. We go through our fair share of pencils and art supplies with one school aged daughter and three burgeoning artists in the house, so I was curious to see how recycled products compared in function and price.
In our experience, you would never know TreeSmart products were any different than the national brands of pencils and school supplies we are used to buying. The pencils are comfortable to use and sharpen easily. Colored pencils have a nice variety of colors and the golf size is fun for little artists’ hands. I also appreciated how the colored pencils come in a tube, making them easy to care for and store. We would happily use TreeSmart as our school supplies.
When it comes to price, there are definitely lower priced options, but I appreciate that TreeSmart products are made in the USA using recycled materials. They also offer larger quantities of products, helping you save if you purchase a year’s worth of pencils up front.
You can even get your child’s classroom engaged in learning about the recycling process, while earning money to support your school. The TreeSmart Fun Raiser program invites a classroom to collect newspapers, which are then used to make custom printed packs of pencils for the class to sell as fundraiser. TreeSmart even includes free shipping for one priority carton of newspapers and for the fun raiser pencil packs! You can see a Medford, Oregon classroom of 5th graders participating in this process in this fun news feature of Tree Smart: