Karen Knapstein
August 20, 2013

Spending for School Supplies


On today’s show, we told you that public school teachers spent more than $1.6 billion of their own money on supplies last year. Most of the money teachers spent — around $400 each — went to the cost of paper and pens, and also math and science tools.

It’s a big reason teachers are going online to sites like or groups like RAFT to for help covering the cost of the stuff they need to make a classroom run, but there are other ways you can help a teacher out too, including spending less yourself so you can share the wealth. Here are a few of our best tips on how to make it happen:

1. Always shop at home first. See what’s left over from last year or what you can find in a parent’s office before you buy more stuff you may already have on hand.

2. Bargains! Pay attention to the tax-free weeks in your community and try to avoid buying anything that’s not on sale. Visit dollar stores for extra savings, and hit warehouse stores with a friend to buy in bulk and split costs, or stock up for the whole year.

3. Don’t be afraid of coupons. Newspapers often have coupons for extra savings (yes, you may have to actually go offline!) and of course, especially if you’re shopping for clothes, you can often do a web search for the store you want and ‘discount code’ and at the very least get a deal on shipping.

4. Finally, for expensive items like graphing calculators, don’t be afraid to use craigslist or eBay (don’t give out more personal information than necessary, and always get a parent’s permission) to score deals. Often items are brand new or barely used and you can get great prices.

Want more tips? Check out the slideshow for keeping your back to school shopping list as green as Earth Day itself.


Ever wonder what happens to all those newspapers your family saves for recycling? Tree Smart has come up with a method of turning old news papers into quality, easier-to-sharpen pencils that also have latex-free and smudge-free erasers. Not only do recyclable pencils come in the standard HB gradients, but they also come in an array of vibrant colors for drawing.


Did you know that students in the U.S. use more than 2 billion pencils per year? That's a lot of wood, graphite and rubber which is often not recycled. Instead of purchasing generic pencils, opt for pencils that are made out of recycled products, available at and


Green is not the only color when it comes to using sustainable markers. Ecolorgy makes a set of washable markers in vibrant colors that are made with recycled plastic shells, 100% recyclable packaging and safe ink that won't stain your clothes.


From studying, to jotting down reminders, to simply just organizing your thoughts, sticky notes are an essential part of daily school life. Next time you pick up a pack, make sure you choose note pads with 100% recycled sheets so you can reduce your carbon footprint while you expand your GPA. Recyclable sticky pads are available at


A notebook made from banana and pineapple? Sounds like the ingredients for fruit salad rather than a sustainable notebook. Companies like The Banana Paper Company create notebooks, stationary and envelopes which are made from surprising materials like coffee and fruit which have helped to save many paper-yielding trees from being cut down.


Not only do recyclable notebooks help save trees, but they also help you save money. Environotes notebooks, one brand made from recycled materials and paper are available in a 24-pack for under $2 online.


Everyone needs a stapler or paperclip to bind their important papers together for school. However, the amount of steel harvested for conventional staples, and the process by which they are manufactured, is harmful to our environment. By purchasing a staple-free stapler like the EcoStapler, you can bind up to five pieces of paper by using an easy method that requires zero staples, and works just as well as a traditional stapler.

One comment on “Spending for School Supplies

  1. 2013-8-19-katie-tabb

    I think teachers shouldn’t have to pay out of thier own pockets to get the necessary things for thier classroom. The money they spend for the room is money that could be spent on other things that are necessary for them.


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