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Articles by Diane di Costanzo

Earthly Possessions is written by the staff of The Green Guide, the premier source of information for environmentally conscious consumers. To subscribe to The Green Guide, click here.

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The beginning of the school year — already a stressful time for kids and parents — is often made even more difficult by all the purchasing pressure, from long lists of school supplies sent home by teachers to ads promoting fashionable new wardrobes for children. In 2003, Americans will spend $14.1 billion on back-to-school items, with $6.5 billion of that going towards clothes.

In addition to the dent in parents’ wallets, there are environmental and social costs to all this school-related spending. Long before little Chloe or Carson proudly marches into school in that brand-new T-shirt, its manufacturing processes may have dumped toxic pesticides and other chemicals into the environment and into the bodies of exploited workers and their families. That backpack full of supplies might be good for one set of Three Rs — reading, writing, and arithmetic — but bad for another set — reduce, reuse, and recycle. And don’t forget that children have to get to school every day, which often involves burning fossil fuels and exposing kids to diesel fumes while they wait for buses.

This back-to-school report card is designed to he... Read more