The Best Eco-Friendly School Supplies
As summer starts coming to an end, it’s time to think about going back to school. This year, you can make back to school time a little greener by checking out these awesome eco-friendly school supplies.
From pens made using recycled bottles to non-toxic backpacks, you’ll find everything you need to make this school year a little more eco-friendly.
Are School Products Toxic?
When you’re loading up your shopping cart with all those items on the back-to-school list, the last thing you might be thinking about is their toxicity.
Yet a study done by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found several toxic ingredients in a variety of school supplies, including benzene in dry-erase markers, phthalates in three-ring binders, and asbestos in crayons.
Plus, this doesn’t even take into account the trees cut down for paper and the other waste that goes into making these products. Fortunately, you can still get all the back-to-school items your kids need without worrying about excess waste and toxicity when you shop from this complete list of eco-friendly back-to-school supplies.
1. Linen Backpack
When you’re shopping for a new backpack, skip the plastic ones that could contain phthalates and look for a backpack made from natural materials.
One great company to consider for an eco-friendly backpack is SoYoung. These backpacks are made with eco-friendly linen derived from the flax plant. This plant requires 90% less water than other fiber plants and can be grown without pesticides.
Plus, they offer some really cool designs, and they’re machine washable.
2. Lunch Box
Once you pick out a backpack, you need to consider what type of lunch box you want to get for packing those zero waste lunches.
Fortunately, SoYoung makes linen lunch boxes to match their linen backpacks. With this lunch box, you’ll enjoy all the same benefits as the linen backpack, plus the lunch boxes are insulated to help foods keep their temperature.
3. Hand Sanitizer
If your back-to-school shopping list includes hand sanitizer, skip the alcohol-based products and go for CleanWell hand sanitizer instead.
CleanWell uses essential plant oils and other natural ingredients to kill 99.99% of germs. Not only is this hand sanitizer safe for sensitive skin, but it’s also a cruelty-free product that’s not tested on animals.
Plus, the container is environmentally friendly and fully recyclable.
Don’t forget you can also make your own homemade hand sanitizer to use at home.
4. Plant-Based Glue
If you need to send your young kids back to school with some glue sticks, you have two great plant-based options.
These Onyx and Green plant-based glue sticks are non-toxic and washable. They also dry clear and quickly, so they’re perfect for those school craft projects.
Another excellent option are these Elmer’s School Glue Naturals glue sticks. They’re also made from natural and renewable plants, and they’re non-toxic and washable. Plus, the glue stick containers are made from 25% pre-consumer recycled plastic.
5. Beeswax Crayons
If you’re looking for non-toxic and natural crayons, these Honeysticks beeswax crayons are an excellent option. They’re made from 100% pure beeswax, so they’re safe for children of all ages.
The wax used to make these crayons is a natural by-product of honey production, which makes them a good sustainable option that causes minimal impact on the environment. They also smell amazing!
6. Eco-Friendly Colored Pencils
If your children need colored pencils for school, you have two excellent options for eco-friendly colored pencils. Sprout plantable colored pencils come with six colors and two graphite pencils.
They all have a seed capsule on the end. When they get too short to use, simply plant them and watch as herbs, flowers, or vegetables grow.
All the pencils are made with biodegradable, non-toxic, and sustainably sourced materials. They’re also made using PEFC or FSC certified wood. This means that every time one tree is harvested, another one is planted in its place.
Your other option is Onyx and Green colored pencils. These pencils come in 24 assorted colors. However, instead of being made with wood, they’re made using recycled newspapers. They’re also packaged in a kraft box that you can recycle.
7. Eco-Friendly Pencils
You also have multiple options when you’re shopping for eco-friendly pencils. Along with colored pencils, Sprout also makes regular graphite pencils with seed capsules on the end.
If you like the idea of growing herbs, flowers, and vegetables from your pencil but would prefer ones not made from wood, the Treewise Plant-a-Pencils come with seed capsules and are made from 100% recycled newspapers.
If you don’t need the seeds, TreeSmart No. 2 pencils are just as hard as solid wood pencils but made from 100% recycled newspapers.
Another option to consider are the Dixon Ticonderoga Renew No. 2 pencils. These pencils are made using recycled wood scraps. Since less wood is used to make these pencils, less waste is created.
8. Recycled Rubber Erasers
Made a mistake? That’s OK. With these recycled rubber erasers, you can easily clean it up with no marks or streaks. Plus, you can feel better knowing you’re using an environmentally friendly eraser.
9. Eco-Friendly Pens
If your kids are a little older and need pens instead of pencils for their eco-friendly school supplies, consider the Pilot B2P. These retractable ball point pens are made from recycled plastic bottles.
They come in both fine point and medium point and in assorted colors, so you can find exactly the style and type of pen you need.
Plus, they’re compatible with Pilot Dr. Grip ink refills. So when your pen runs out of ink, you can simple replace the ink instead of throwing away the entire pen.
10. Eco-Friendly Highlighters
Onyx and Green highlighters are also made from recycled plastic bottles. This pack of four offers fine-tipped, water-based, and non-toxic highlighters in assorted colors.
11. Bamboo Ruler
We all know bamboo is a great alternative to wood because it grows so fast it’s incredibly sustainable. Plus, it’s just as strong as wood. If your kids need a ruler for math class, this bamboo ruler makes a fantastic eco-friendly option.
12. Bamboo Calculator
Another bamboo product that’s perfect for math class is this bamboo calculator. The casing and keys on this calculator are made from 100% biodegradable bamboo. Even better, it’s solar powered, so no wasteful batteries are required.
13. Recycled Printer/Copy Paper
The United States alone uses around 20,700,000 tons of paper every year, which takes about 55 to 110 million trees to produce. If that makes you feel sick to your stomach, it gets worse. Only around 53% of that paper is recycled.
Lately, it’s becoming clear just how vitally important trees are to us. Not only do they produce the very air we breathe, but they also absorb carbon and other gases in the atmosphere, control our weather, and help fight climate change.
To help make a difference, choose recycled paper for your back-to-school needs. For printer and copier paper, I prefer to use Printworks multipurpose paper because it’s made from 100% recycled paper.
14. Recycled Notebook Paper
When you’re shopping for paper, don’t forget about getting recycled notebook paper. Ampad notebook paper is made from 100% recycled content. It’s also college ruled and three-hole punched, so it’s ready to go in a three-ring binder.
15. Spiral Notebook
For kids who need notebooks for going back to school, the Mead spiral notebook is the ideal option. These one subject notebooks have college ruled paper that’s made from 100% recycled materials.
16. Three-Ring Binder
Most three-ring binders are made from plastic. Not only does this increase the chances of children being exposed to phthalates, but you also can’t recycle them.
Instead, choose a Guided Products ReBinder. This three-ring binder is made from durable recycled chipboard. When the school year is over and it’s time to get rid of the binder, the rings easily unscrew so you can recycle it.
17. Dry-Erase Index Cards
Whether it’s practicing multiplication tables or studying vocabulary words, every child will likely have a need for index cards. However, instead of choosing paper index cards that you write on once and throw away, go with dry-erase index cards that you can use over and over again.
These dry-erase index cards come in the traditional 3″ x 5″ size, and you can also get them lined or unlined.
18. Non-Toxic Dry-Erase Markers
When you get your dry-erase index cards, don’t forget to pick up some non-toxic dry-erase markers as well. ZenZoi dry-erase markers for kids come in 13 bright and fresh colors.
Additionally, the non-toxic markers come in a 100% recyclable tube container instead of plastic packaging.
19. Eco-Friendly Scissors
The handles are made from biodegradable corn plastic and the blades are made from stainless steel. So as long as you take care of them, they should last you an incredibly long time.
20. Paper Cinch
A paper cinch, sometimes also called a stapleless stapler, is a great zero waste back-to-school item to consider. This paper cinch punches a tab in your papers to hold them together without a metal staple.
Not only does this cut down waste, but it also makes recycling a breeze. When you’re done with your paper, you can simply toss it in the recycling bin without fighting to get the staple out. Plus, you never have to worry about buying staples again.
Now, I do have to point out that this paper cinch can only bind about 10 pages together. So you’ll still have to use a regular stapler for larger packets of paper.
Eco-Friendly School Supplies
When it’s time to send those kids back to school, you can do so without worrying about what type of toxic ingredients might be hidden in the products they use every day when you shop this great list of eco-friendly school supplies.
More Eco-Friendly Tips
Now that you see how easy it is to get eco-friendly school supplies for your kids, are you ready for even more tips on natural and sustainable living? Then be sure to check out some of our other popular posts:
- How to Make Homemade Playdough
- The Eco-Friendly Way to Handle Old Toys
- Best Children’s Books About Sustainability
- How to Naturally Ease Eczema