Whole Living Daily

Green Your Back to School Supplies

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School is right around the corner. Time to get some paper and pencils for the kiddies. The good news is there are tons of school supplies to choose from that are kind to the earth. Before venturing out to buy new, review what you have around that can be freshened up and used again. Check your pencil and pen supplies. My kids seem to have an endless supply of perfectly good pencils with worn down erasers. Instead of buying new pencils, all we need is a few new erasers and a good sharpening. Dig into the kitchen drawers to take inventory of your water bottles and sandwich container collection. And double-check the backpack from last year. A patch covering an ink stain can make last year’s backpack as good as new.

When you know what you do need to buy, here is a list of products and sites to get you started on your back-to-school shopping:


  • PB GREEN – Great designs for reusable sandwich and snack bags made out of a high quality cotton fabric and inner lining that is water-resistant and does not contain DEHP, phthalates, or BPA plasticizers. I love the Night Owl and the Gray Giraffes designs.
  • Fluf – Lunch bags made with hemp and organic cotton with playful designs using water-based biodegradable dyes. I might have to buy the “I’m on My Way to Eat a Salad” bag for myself.
  • The oval stainless steel lunch system has been a favorite in our house. Instead of packing the same old boring turkey sandwich for the 100th time, the small containers allow you to pack things like yogurt with berries, or dip with veggies – a nice change.
  • Klean Kanteen is my favorite water bottle company.
  • Here is a complete set from Kids Konserve, which offers the wraps, the containers, the bag, and the water bottle all together.

School Supplies

  • New Leaf Paper: Great selection of recycled paper, binders, file folders, and notebooks. Try the Eco Audit Calculator, which will tally how much energy, water, solid waste, greenhouse gases, and trees you save by using New Leaf Paper.
  • The DBA Pen is the only 98% biodegradable pen in the world with no toxins in the ink. 
  • Download the Ecojot catalogue to see the huge assortment of colorful journals, notepads and calendars. Ecojot is offering a “Buy One, We Give One” campaign where the company will donate a notebook to a needy student for every Ecojot journal, jumbo journal, and sketchbook purchased.

One-Stop Shopping

  • The Ultimate Green Store: You can get everything from water bottles, backpacks to pencils on this site.
  • GreenLine Paper Company: This is a good site to bookmark for office supplies as well as back-to-school stuff. I found recycled steel paper clips and a great selection of recycled pencils made out of everything from newspaper, blue jeans and old money.
  • Staples has an “Eco-Easy” section on their website that makes it “easy” to find eco-products.

And don’t forget to talk with your kids about how these eco-friendly products are better for the environment. Before you know it, your kid will tell a friend, and so on and so on.

Happy Back-to-School shopping!

Francesca Olivieri is co-founder of sage baby, an online eco-friendly baby store offering everything from organic clothes and skin care to furniture. She also runs a green consulting business; blogs for The Family Groove and Scenic Hudson; and contributes to Daily Candy Kids, YogaCity, Citiscoop, and NRDC’s Simple Steps. Please visit her website at FrancescaOlivieri.com.

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Comments (9)

  • Great post - love your point about reusing the supplies you already have!! And those PB Green snack sacks are adorable - I think I'm going to have to order some!
    For more green back-to-school ideas check out this roundup of posts from the Green Moms Carnival!

  • these are great tips and I was happy to read the post, but many kids started back in August which means back to school planning and buying starts much earlier - in late July. We've already outfitted for the year, but I wish I had seen this sooner. Please run something similar a bit earlier next year!

  • Great ideas...how about suggestions for all that artwork that is about to come home!

  • I struggle with the artwork issue. I am going to think about that and get back to you. Thanks for the comments!

  • Thanks for the great suggestions! We love our PB Green lunch set. The velcro closure on the snack bags keeps food surprisingly fresh. We've forgotten them in the bottom of our stroller a few times and found the crackers still crispy- a day or two later!

  • Thank you for writing about this. While we're on the topic og going back to school and activism, you might want to check out this video I saw o YouTube on how to "green yourself" back to school: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NbB_ANPZS0

  • Thank you for this article. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something special. You clearly know what you are doing, you’ve covered so many bases.Thanks!

  • [...] take a look at my green school supply picks from last year as many of the resources are still top on my [...]

  • nice job, thanks for all mate !

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