Ignore those back-to-school ads hawking products made from non-renewable resources. Instead, give a second life to reusable resources.

Greenest Notebooks and Laptops

Most have seen the Mac vs. PC commercials, but when it comes to being green, both computing formats come in a variety of hues.

MacBook Pro meets the energy-saving requirements set by the EPA, giving it ENERGY STAR certification. Another way to evaluate the environmental impact of products is the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool or EPEAT. According to Apple’s Web site, all MacBook Pro models have earned EPEAT Gold, the highest rating. Find the nearest Apple store at Apple.com.

Greenzer.com features five tips to consider when purchasing a green laptop computer:

1. Power Consumption – Do not choose a laptop that is an energy hog. ENERGY STAR certification breaks down energy consumption, while EPEAT certification tells which notebooks have renewable energy accessories, such as modular solar panels.

2. Laptop End-of-life Management – According to EPA estimates, Americans toss out tons of laptops each year, which may leach toxins from landfills and end up in drinking water. EPEAT’s certification includes evaluation of end-of-life practices by laptop makers.

3. Product Longevity and Life Cycle Extension – Steer clear of a laptop that will be outdated in six months. EPEAT rates how easy it is to upgrade a given model with common tools and without professional assistance.

4. Packaging – A laptop with an EPEAT label guards against toxins, such as heavy metals, which are not allowed in packaging unless made from recycled content. The program also summarizes composting, disposability and percentage of recycled material.

5. Responsible Manufacturers – Some computer manufacturers are building greener products. Several metrics exist, including Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), to determine which companies make competitive products and serve as responsible environmental stewards.

In the PC world, Dell, Levono, HP, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba are some of the manufacturers that have earned high ratings from ENERGY STAR and EPEAT.

Retro and gently-used clothing

Find it difficult to keep your kids in school clothing and shoes? Try a resale store. If siblings wear each others’ hand-me-downs, why not wear someone else’s gently used clothes? Hand Me Downs, at 614 Dempster St., 847-475-0803, sells clothing and shoes for newborns to preteens.

Teens looking for retro or edgy style can try Crossroads Trading Co. at 1730 Sherman Ave., 847-492-9400, with a wide range of sizes for gals and guys.

School Supplies

Local office supply, grocery and department stores may carry some school supplies made with recycled content. The best selections are offered by online retailers, which can sell deeper product lines in the green market.

Look for these companies: At-a-Glance calendars and planners; Avery binders, sheet protectors and labels; Nature Saver folders and notebooks; Pentel pens, mechanical pencils and highlighters. Check out LogsdonOfficeSupply.com, OfficeDepot.com, OfficeMax.com and Target.com.

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Plastic water bottles are a menace to society. Okay, that is an overstatement, but they are bad for the environment. Cheap and convenient does not cut it when it comes to non-renewable resources such as petroleum. It takes oil to make those cases of plastic bottles filled with water that is likely no more “pure” than community’s tap water.

Stainless steel water bottles are ready to replace plastic bottles and transport drinking water. Now available in decorative colors and a variety of sizes, stainless steel bottles keep water cooler and there is no worry about leaching toxins. They are sold locally at outdoor gear suppliers and healthy living retailers.

Contact Eco Gal at ecogal247@yahoo.com or info@evanstonroundtable.com.