In general, we consider environmentally friendly products to be those which minimize the use of resources, create less pollution, and result in less harm to all living creatures.
We carry products that promote source reduction - ie, products that can be reused, products that aid in reuse, and products that can be taken back by the manufacturer and refilled, remanufactured or reused in the same fashion. Examples of source reduction products we carry in addition to our toner cartridge and inkjet printer cartridge recycling programs include reusable canvas, sandwich, and gift bags, refillable pens (the only type we carry), our Planet Pleaser correction fluid (the manufacturer takes back the empty bottles and reuses them), and our papermaking kits.
Some of our favorite products are our agricultural products, because they are completely renewable products which are part of a truly sustainable system. Note that these products generally can also be either recycled (papers) or composted (corn products), so that they need not enter the waste stream at the end of their lives. We include sustainably harvested wood products in this category. Examples of these products include our treefree papers (hemp, kenaf, organic cotton, agricultural waste), hemp canvas products, corn pens, biodegradable food service line (primarily made from corn, wheat, sugarcane), soy crayons, and tagua nut business card holders.
Alternative Energy/Energy Conservation
We will also carry products which promote energy conservation and products that utilize alternative energy sources, such as solar, when we can find ones in our product line. These products are renewable, utilize less resources and create less pollution. Currently we carry solar calculators and solar cookers. We plan to expand our offerings in this area in the near future.
We carry a full line of recycled products, which are the most prevalent in our product offerings. A recycled product is one which is created from a product already in existence. Recycled products are environmentally superior to virgin products because they utilize less of our natural resources, use less energy and water, create less pollution, and save landfill space. Although it is more efficient to create a new product from recycled materials than from raw materials, the creation of the new product from recycled materials is still a manufacturing process that takes energy, water and other resources, and creates pollution. The efficiency of the process varies with the material being used, the manufacturing process being used, and the nature of the product transformation. For example, some materials like steel and aluminum are extremely efficient in the remanufacture process, while others, like paper, are less efficient. Also, in some cases the manufacturing process is highly labor intensive (eg, the conversion of license plates into road journals) and therefore very efficient from an environmental perspective (less new resources and less pollution).
Recycled products are generally classified as to their post-consumer and pre-consumer percentages. Post-consumer recycled percentages refer to the material actually used by consumers, while pre-consumer percentages refer to materials that are recycled as a result of either manufacturing or marketing inefficiencies. Manufacturing inefficiencies include scraps, waste and rejects generated in the manufacturing process, that cannot be used for their intended purpose. Marketing inefficiencies include products that never reached the end consumer because they were left unsold, and reflect a very troubling tendency in our society to overproduce. Examples of products we carry with post-consumer content include recycled rubber tire pens and mousepads, recycled paper products, recycled paper clips, recycled plastic backpacks (Ecospun) and desk accessories, and recycled license plate photo albums. Examples of products that reflect manufacturing inefficiencies include recycled circuit board products, Woody pens and recycled paper products (pre-consumer portion). Examples of products that reflect marketing inefficiencies include GreenDisks (unsold software) and Forest Saver map stationery and envelopes (obsolete maps).
Toxic substances pollute our air, soil and water, and poison all forms of life. Since there is no real way to significantly mitigate these negative impacts, we need to avoid the use of toxic substances whenever possible. Therefore, we carry products that utilize safer, more natural substances. For example, we carry nontoxic glue and stamp pads, water-based highlighters, markers, and correction fluid, organic cotton paper products (grown without pesticides), chlorine free papers (ie, our treefree papers and recycled papers processed chlorine free), and chlorine free biodegradable food service supplies.
Cruelty-Free/No Animal Testing
We believe that our products should reflect our respect for all living creatures, and therefore we will not knowingly carry products that have animal ingredients or have been tested on animals without their consent. Note that a few dogs have voluntarily chosen to test the corn pen barrels - we are happy to report that they approve of these pens! Animal testing is unnecessary to the safety of our products - for more information contact Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) at peta.org. You may want to get their Shopping Guide for Caring Consumers.
We also carry products that convey environmental messages. For example, we carry notecards that convey important messages about organic agriculture (made from treefree or recycled paper), and rubber stamps that convey a variety of important environmental messages (made from sustainably harvested wood).