Sustainable School Supplies
In all my years of blogging, I have not managed to write a post on sustainable school supplies. Part of the reason is that I tend to focus on fashion. But it’s also the case that school supplies can seem like the sorts of everyday essentials that must be purchased whether an ethical alternative can be found or not.
While many back-to-school items are a necessity, they also tend to be made with synthetic or non-renewable materials like plastic, or overly rely on virgin trees to supply paper.
But it turns out that there are some good (and affordable!) options that make going back to school a little more sustainable and conscientious. As with all things, of course, it’s helpful to find the best choice for you and/or your school-aged kids.
I must confess that I LOVED shopping for school supplies when I was a kid. There’s something about a new pack of notebooks that filled me with a sense of possibility.
As an adult who is still in school (for one more year!), I still need some of these items, too. So, no matter your age, the following supplies may be useful for you.
The below brands offer products that make reducing waste easy. They also use ethical labor practices. This post contains affiliate links.
12 Sustainable Back-to-School Brands for Lunches, Classroom Supplies, and More
FOOD & DRINK CONTAINERS
1 | Stojo
Stojo makes collapsible coffee cups, water bottles, and food containers out of washable and nontoxic silicone. Items are dishwasher-safe, BPA free, and free of glues.
2 | Eco Lunchbox
Eco Lunchbox is known for their stainless steel food containers. But they also carry cute, canvas lunch bags and reusable travel cutlery. Take advantage of a discount when you buy their convenient kits.
NOTEBOOKS & BINDERS
3 | Decomposition
Decomposition is a riff on composition notebooks, but they carry so much more! Their spiral bound notebooks, sketchbooks, pens, and binders are made with significant amounts of recycled content and feature nontoxic dyes and inks.
4 | Mead Recycled Line
Mead offers a range of notebooks made with 100% recycled paper. Best of all, this classic school supply line is widely available at many big box stores.
PENS & CLASSROOM SUPPLIES
5 | Onyx & Green
Onyx & Green carries pens, math tools, staplers, notebooks, and more made with recycled and sustainable materials. They also carry nontoxic, water-based glues.
6 | Sprout
Sprout carries plantable pencils made of FTC-certified wood. The stub end contains seeds. When you’re done using your pencil, see if your stub will grow herbs, vegetables, or flowers.
BACKPACKS & CASES
7 | Patagonia
Patagonia carries backpacks and other commuter bags that are fair trade certified and made with recycled materials. You can also shop their pre-loved, “Worn Wear” collection.
8 | Cotopaxi
Cotopaxi makes laptop cases, backpacks, and hiking equipment with overstock textiles. Their production is fair trade, and makers are given creative control over the final product’s look.
PHONE ACCESSORIES & AIRPOD CASES
9 | PELA Case
PELA offers a huge selection of compostable phone cases, airpod cases, watch bands, card cases, and more. Items are durable, and can be composetd in a backyard compost!
ONE STOP SHOP (AMAZON ALTERNATIVE)
10 | EarthHero
EarthHero is a one-stop-shop for all things low waste, zero waste, and sustainable. They have an extensive office supplies section.
11 | Thredup
12 | Local Buy Nothing Groups (Find yours on Facebook)
13 | Consider hosting a school and office supplies swap with friends or at a local community center. Most households have unused pens, pencils, and even notebooks!
Workwear Recommendations for Adults
Kids’ Clothing Recommendations
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.