Staples Scours the Globe for Eco-Friendly Office Supplies

staples globe.jpgLike many design types, we enjoy office supplies—the practical, tax-paying sibling of art supplies—more than the average person. We have considered moving to Tokyo for the superior variety of writing utensils. And so we were intrigued to learn that Staples, home of our favorite sheet protectors and the easy button (fun to hack!), is in the midst of a global design contest to discover eco-friendly office products. The inaugural Staples Global EcoEasy Challenge, a partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology, has winnowed the entries down to seven finalists representing student teams from five universities around the world. Three of the finalist teams are from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and have designed power-conserving desk chairs and shredders and a more eco-responsible pen. From Brazil’s Engineering of Piracicaba comes a line of desk and drawer organization tools made out of a local, sustainable material, while teams from Germany and Australia are pinning their hopes on better binders and pens. America’s hope comes in a quartet of Berkeley lasses who call themselves the Explosi-Divas and have wisely redesigned Staples’ signature product. Will their eco-friendly mini-stapler take home the $25,000 grand prize? We’ll find out April 20, when the teams present their protoypes to a panel of judges at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City.