It’s back to school time, and new pencils are on every student’s shopping list. Did you know that more than 14 billion pencils are sold worldwide every single year? About 2 billion of those are sold in the U.S. alone.
While on a business trip in China, Chris Stangland discovered a resource conservation innovation that set him on a mission. Pencils had been made from recycled newspapers in China for years, and he wanted to bring that green process home. He founded TreeSmart to bring recycled newspaper pencils to students in the U.S.
TreeSmart is an Oregon-based company offering pencils, colored pencils and rulers made from old newspapers. Most of their products are made and/or assembled in the USA.
So how does it work? The first step is collecting recycled newspapers. The newspapers are then cut to size and the newspaper is soaked in a special glue. Next, the paper is hand rolled around the graphite. The pencils are then dried and a little eraser is attached to the end.
One sheet of newspaper can make around 3 pencils. That means 200 TreeSmart pencils can be made from one Sunday newspaper. A 30 inch high stack of newspapers will save one tree 20 feet tall. Since TreeSmart is currently making 2 million newspaper pencils a year, their resource conservation efforts are saving a lot of trees!
They have taken their program one step further, and brought recycling and resource conservation education into schools. TreeSmart goes into classrooms and shows kids exactly how newspapers are turned into pencils. Their goal is to have their pencils in all 88,000 elementary schools in the U.S. so kids can see exactly how recycling can make a difference from an early age.
To further this goal, TreeSmart offers a fundraising program for classrooms.
- To participate in the fundraising program, the school would collect newspapers and send them in to TreeSmart.
- They would then by made into pencils with the school’s name imprinted on them.
- That’s where the fundraising portion comes in. The students sell the newspaper pencils to raise money for their school. It’s a wonderful way to teach children about resource conservation while raising much-needed money for the school.
So this year when you’re back to school shopping, pick up some pencils from TreeSmart and support their resource conservation efforts. You’ll be doing the environment a favor.
Have you ever used a recycled newspaper pencil?
Images courtesy of TreeSmart