I’ve had my eyes skinned for affordable eco-friendly back-to-school products over the past couple of weeks and was pleasantly surprised to see what’s out there. My first stop was Target, where I found a great line of paper products from the Green Room. I particularly love their notebooks, which are beautifully designed and so reasonable that I won’t be buying Lola’s notebooks anywhere else. The Green Room line also includes binders, folders, note cards, stationary and more.
I then had a sniff around Staples, which has become a firm favorite because they are clearly making a huge effort to carry as much recycled paper as they possibly can. They also have a great selection of recycled notepads, printing paper, envelopes, padded envelopes and more. I also love that they carry the full selection of Post-it Greener notes - an absolute must-have for back-to-school stocking up. My feeling it that if you’re going to buy things like printing paper and Post-it notes anyway, why not buy the sustainable version? In some cases you may pay a tiny bit more, but remember each time you open your wallet, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.
Binders may not be the sexiest thing in the world to buy, but rather than getting a plastic or PVC (horribly toxic,) one – pick up a Naked Binder, which is completely eco-friendly and have your child get creative and customize it if they don’t like the minimalist thing.
As far as back packs are concerned, there are now a plethora of eco-friendly choices. I like to pay a little more and get something that’s really well-make, study and will stand the test of being thrown around/dragged/bashed. My favorite bags because they last forever are made by Patagonia. I love the Patagonia Half Mass Messenger bag, which comes in bright green or hot pink. It’s the perfect size for books, lap tops and has dozens of handy pockets. I also love the Bungalow 360 bag, which can be sent with your kid to college for either an overnight, gym or small travel bag. For smaller kids, I like the Skip Hop Zoo BPA-free small back packs.
There are so many great eco-friendly choices for lunch boxes/bags. My personal favorites include Dabba Walla, and Citizen Pip. For older kids – (maybe a great back-to-college gift,) I love the KOR water bottle – a beautiful design and a water-friendly company. If your kids do a lot of sports, you may want to consider a water bottle with an inbuilt filter. That way they can fill up their bottle from the school faucet or fountain and eliminate all the contaminants. I like the EcoFlo bottles.
As far as pencils are concerned, my favorites are the O’Bon pencils, which perform beautifully and are made of recycled newspaper. I love all the designs and many come in packs of 9. For non-toxic market, glue, play dough and paints, Clementine Art has a great selection. I also love the Stubby Pencil Studio, which carries the cutest erasers I’ve ever seen!
Finally, for shoes, I love Simple Shoes – they don’t have a massive selection of kids, but the ones they do have a adorable and hard-wearing. My daughter is addicted to her Tom’s Shoes – as are most of her friends, as they love the designs and the fact that in buying a pair they are helping out another child.