Each day we come across inspiring people and organizations doing their part to stem the stream of waste in our public school system. Getting Tools to City Schools is one of these exceptional organizations that is trying to not only make our schools more sustainable, but also ensure that all students in New York City’s public schools have the tools they need to succeed.
Founded and directed by Dennis Kitchen, Getting Tools to City Schools sells eco-friendly 3-ring binders as a way to fund its charitable mission of providing free, basic school supplies to students in New York City’s low-income public schools. About two-thirds of the students enrolled in the city’s elementary and middle schools can’t afford lunch, much less basic school supplies. In fact, city teachers spend hundreds and even thousands of their own dollars each year to buy basic supplies for their students. So Dennis decided to start a charitable organization that would give these students the necessary supplies they need to perform well in school: a brand new three-ring binder, lined paper, pencil, pens, pocket divider folders and a pencil pouch.
As a way to fund the needed school supplies, Getting Tools to City Schools started selling eco-friendly 3-ring binders. The binders are made of 100 percent recycled paperboard, which is FDA-approved and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified. The binders are reusable, which makes them economical. They feature an ingenious removable 3-ring binder mechanism: All you have to do is disattach the rings, recycle the tattered and doodled-upon binder cover, and attach a new cover ready for artistic expression. No more wasteful vinyl binders filling up our landfills. Forty million vinyl binders are sold in the United States each year, accounting for 35 million pounds of landfill. Each year there are 8,000 landfill fires, and the PVC burning in these fires may now be the single largest source of dioxin releases in the environment.
Getting Tools to City Schools, which is an approved vendor of the Department of Education, has already received orders from three public schools that are outfitting their entire schools (students, staff & administration) with the company’s recyclable, reusable binders for the fall. The company offers a discount to schools, parent groups, businesses, and organizations that order more than 50 binders.
Plus, any New York City public schools that has more than 90 percent of students eligible for free lunches can get the organization’s services. With every reusable, recyclable binder purchased at full price, Getting Tools to City Schools will give a binder to a student at a low-income public school. Getting Tools to City Schools makes it easy to be part of a helping our city’s children perform well at school — all you have to do is purchase a recyclable binder that won’t add to our landfills. (Orders made by Aug. 1 will arrive before the school year starts.)
Here’s a video Getting Tools to City Schools produced about its very first supplies delivery, to PS 335 in the South Bronx:
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First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.