We’re still enjoying and loving summer time and the hot weather we’ve been experiencing, so it seems hard to believe we even need to start thinking about back to school supplies. It’s coming up more quickly than I can believe, though.
In just three weeks, my first-born will be starting kindergarten. I have mixed feelings about this, but am hoping all goes well. Kindergarten here has become play-based, which is awesome. I do still have some concerns – mainly the long days with no quiet time as well as large class sizes – but I think K will do well since he is such a social butterfly and a busy guy. Did I mention he’s busy?
We’ve had to do a bit of “school shopping” in the past for nursery school and preschool, but for the most part, that just consisted of a bag and lunchbox. Now, we have even more to think about. Like most items we buy, I’m trying to stick to natural and eco-friendly school supplies.
Eco-Friendly School Supplies
There are certain brands and lines I already know and love for their commitment to sustainability and high quality. If you’re hoping to stay green when it comes to school materials, check out this list of the best eco-friendly school supplies to help make your back to school shopping easier.
- Backpack – There are many choices when it comes to backpacks, but I’m a firm believer in a good, sturdy, durable backpack. The cheap plastic ones that fall apart after three months aren’t worth it. In the end, you’ll end up spending more money replacing them, and they are often made with toxic chemicals. It’s also important for children to have proper support for their developing bodies, especially with all the books and other supplies they’re carrying around. I recently discovered the amazing Fjallraven Canada site and spent way too long perusing all the awesome stuff they offer. This great Swedish outdoor company is big on conserving the environment and has awesome social and environmental responsibility practices. I’m especially loving their simple Kanken backpack. It has all the features I look for in a backpack, and it’s the perfect size for school-aged children as well as adults. I have one myself and use it constantly. Hiking, day trips, carry-on, overnight bag – it’s great. The Kanken was actually originally introduced over 30 years ago to help prevent back programs in Swedish school children, which says a lot. It fits a good amount inside and even comes with a ground pad for sitting, which is pretty sweet. Fjallraven Canada also makes a Kånken Kids backpack for smaller children, and it comes with a chest strap with reflector. All of the Kanken backpacks are also water and dirt-resistant, which is key for kids (and active adults)! Be warned though: you might need half an hour to choose which fun colour you want.
- Lunchbox or bag – Since many lunch boxes are made out of some form of chemical-leaching plastic or vinyl, it’s a good place to start when it comes to eco-friendly school supplies, especially since this is where food we eat is stored. We’re big fans of So Young’s lunch boxes and I adore the simple, cute, retro designs. I also love the fact that they are made out of raw linen. Plus, the boxes are free from PVC, phthalate, lead and BPA. All of the lunch boxes come with a long strap so you can wear them as a messenger style bag, and there is an extra back pocket for cutlery. ECOlunchboxes also makes a fun cloth lunch bag. It’s an original eco lunch bag from Japan that is made by knotting, folding and twisting the fabric. It’s such a cool idea and a great alternative to regular lunch boxes.We’re big fans of.
- Bento Box Food Container – If you’re looking for an affordable, green, durable Bento box, then Yumbox is the way to go. Along with their miniSnack container, they make an awesome 6-compartment bento box. These have fun designs on the bottom, are completely leak-proof and make packing lunches fun.They’re also BPA-free and phthalate-free, plus you’re helping the landfill big time by ditching the disposable plastic and paper bags. If you’re in Canada, you find them online at Cute Kids Stuff.
- Separate Food Container – If you’re just looking for separate food containers, we love the ECOlunchbox containers. They have a variety of sizes that are great for both little and big kids as well as adults. We often take these on hikes with us. I love that the containers are made out of eco-friendly stainless steel and are completely non-toxic. Steeltainers also makes great leak-proof stainless steel containers that are kid-friendly.
- Water Bottle – Having a reusable drink bottle is key for children. Bottled water is an unnecessary expense, especially since our tap water in North America is generally much cleaner and better than bottled water. If you have a good water filter, even better. When it comes to reusable water bottles, Klean Kanteen is our number 1 pick, hands down. We absolutely love the stainless steel Kid Kanteen water bottle and it comes everywhere with us. They are also lightweight so they’re perfect for kids of any age.
- Ice Packs – Crocodile Creek makes good ice packs in a variety of designs. The packs contain mostly water with a bit of cellulose.
- Pencils – Pencils are a great area in which you can help save trees by investing in ones made from recycled paper. Since it will likely take quite a while to go through this whole pack, you should be good for pencils for a while.
- Paper and Notepads – EcoJot makes some great notebooks. I’m still rocking mine that I picked up years ago and I absolutely love it. They have so many fun patterns as well as tons of other great stuff like planners and cards. For computer paper, Printworks makes recycled paper or head to your local office supplies store.
- Pencil Cases – Whether you’re crafty or not, a simple pencil case is a relatively easy thing to make. There are some great tutorials on DIY pencil cases and you can easily make one out of recycled fabric or scraps you have at home. If you prefer to buy one, the Boshiho cases are made out of soft and flexible cork. Fun, right? Here are a few of my favourite DIY free tutorials if you choose to make one:
Did I miss anything you’re looking for? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list. Good luck with back to school shopping!