Eco Friendly Back to School Supples – The Green Way

by heather

Back to school!

Back to school!

Ok, please don’t roast me alive for this “back to school” post.

I know it’s July. I know that you and your kids are still racing barefoot through the grass, catching fireflies at night, and sleeping with the windows open.

September, God bless it, is still light years away.

Can you imagine the horror, however, when I walked into Target the other day and saw bright yellow pencils, reams of paper, and rows upon rows of Sponge Bob lunch pails?

That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. There’s a month left. Which means soon, parents all over the country are going to begin shopping for back to school supplies.

And that’s when I realized that if I wanted to jump the gun and write about eco-friendly school supplies, I had to do it now.

So, that’s where we are. Eco friendly back to school. In July. Please have mercy.

Eco Friendly School Supplies #1: The Lunch Box

Depending on what school your kids go to, they may or may not be getting a healthy lunch. So, more and more parents are packing lunch for their kids. It’s not only healthier to make lunch at home, but it also saves money.

But taking lunch usually means what? Lots of brown bags. Lots of ziplocs. Lots of plastic silverware, and lots of paper towels and napkins.

The eco friendly solution?

Here we go.


To-Go Ware Tiffin Action Pack

To-Go Ware Tiffin Action Pack

Option A: To Go Ware Tiffin Action Pack

To-Go Ware 3 Tier Tiffin & Padded Bag Set is awesome. If you missed my review on this product, you can see it here.

Why do I love this eco friendly lunch pail?

Because it’s got three separate compartments, so you can have salad and a main course without having to mush them all together.

It’s also enormously cool looking. Eating out of it is like being on a jungle safari. This lunch pail takes leftovers to a whole new level.

I do think, however, that the Tiffin Action Pack would be a better fit for kids that are older, because the closures take some muscle to snap. My guess is 5th grade and up. High school and college kids would L-O-V-E this thing. Again, the cool factor.


Built NY Animal Lunch Tote

Built NY Animal Lunch Tote

Option B: Built NY Munchler Lunch Bag

There’s no other way to say it: the Built NY Animal-Shaped Insulated Lunch Bags are just plain fun to look at.

The great thing about the Built NY bags is that they’re great for younger kids. They’re easy to open, and super fun to tote around school.

Plus at $9.99, they’re a lot less painful if they’re lost (which is another reason why the more expensive Tiffin is better for older kids!)


SnackTaxi Reusable Bags

SnackTaxi Reusable Bags

Option C: SnackTaxi Reusable Sandwich Bags

Want to ditch the Ziplocs this year?

You can, thanks to SnackTaxi. This family-owned company makes reusable sandwich and snack bags for both kids and adults. I’ve tried them and completely love them. You can see my product review on SnackTaxi bags here.

Using SnackTaxi sandwich bags means that you can completely cut out Ziplocs from your kids’ lunches. Yahoo on that!

And, they’re washable.

Eco Friendly School Supplies #2: Pencils and Pens

Every kid needs pencils. Well, they can write green with the Paper Mate Earth Write Wood Pencils. These pencils are made from 100% recycled wood. And, even the eraser is recycled.

If you want to find recycled pens for your older kids, then check out the Pilot Recycled Ballpoint Pen. It’s made from 77% recycled material, and it’s refillable so you don’t have to keep consuming more plastic when the ink runs out.


Eco Friendly School Supplies #3: Paper and Notebooks

When it comes to green school supplies, we can make a big difference just by purchasing recycled paper. Think of all the trees you’ll save!


Banana paper notebook

Banana paper notebook

Option A: Banana Paper Recycled Notebook

I found this nifty notebook on No trees were harmed in the making of this notebook, because it uses the discarded stalks from the banana trees.

The only bad thing I’ve found when it comes to recycled notebooks is that they’re pricy. This is one of the cheaper ones I found, and it’s $6.

For those of you with multiple kids, this could get very expensive.

I thought a more frugal option would be to use loose leaf recycled paper instead.

Recycled Binders

Recycled Binders

You could purchase a Rebinder Recycled Binder (which uses recycled corrugated cardboard) and fill it with recycled looseleaf paper.

From the binders and papers I’ve priced out, I definitely think this would save money over buying a stack of recycled notebooks. But, places like Target or Staples might have more frugal options that I’m not finding online, so it might be worth it to start looking out for prices to compare.

Eco Friendly School Supplies #4: Backpacks

Eco friendly backpacks are all the rage right now. Which is awesome.

This means that parents and kids have a ton of options when it comes to picking something cool and functional that’s also going to be planet friendly.


Mountainsmith Recycled Backpack

Mountainsmith Recycled Backpack

Option A: Mountainsmith Optimus Recycled Backpack

The Mountainsmith Optimus Recycled Fabric Daypack is made from recycled PET body fabric. So, you don’t have to worry about consuming more plastic when you buy this pack.

While I haven’t used this backpack in particular, I have used the Mountainsmith Lumbar packs to go hiking. And, they rock. The company is an established brand that is well known by outdoor enthusiasts, and my Mountainsmith lasted forever.

Option B: Bazura School Bag

Ok, I HAVE tried the Bazura school bag. And, I love it.

1211031706903-475797241This bag is made from recycled juice containers. Here’s how it works: kids in the Phillipines pick up these juice containers that litter the streets. They, in turn, sell them to a local co-op, which employes women to clean and sew the juice containers into these fun bags.

Every day, the kids collect over 50,000 of these juice containers.

This is a major step in cleaning up litter, and reusing the containers.

The bag is great because it’s roomy, but also very lightweight. This would make it a great option for younger kids. It also folds up really small, which is awesome.

Last Word…

So, do any of you have some favorite eco-friendly school supplies you’ve used in the past? If so, I’d love to include them here, so send ’em in!

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Jennifer July 21, 2009 at 9:46 am

Your totally right. We should green up our school supplies! I think alot of parent buy all new stuff every year and could be using the old supplies again too. Great Article.

heather July 21, 2009 at 9:51 am


Yep, you’re right on. I was thinking about doing a whole separate post on back to school techniques (like reusing supplies) to save money and go green, since adding that aspect to this one would have turned it into a novel!

It’s an excellent point, and I think I will go ahead and do that as a companion article to this one, since I’m sure other readers will want information like that too.

Thanks so much for writing in!

Green Bean July 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm

It IS time, isn’t it, to start thinking about this stuff. Last year, I gave up on the “eco-friendly” options and ended up finding some second hand lunch boxes and a backpack. This year, though, I may need to look at the Munchler.

Rebecca Rivera July 24, 2009 at 6:13 pm

reuse last years stuff, that is what we plan on doing before we buy anything

The Gooroo @ Finance Advisory Stop July 26, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Never to early to prepare for school! Many parents/kids wait till the last minute, which is definitely not a good idea. Waiting till the last minute usually leaves you with fewer options available. Many items will also be out of stock.

Gabriel August 4, 2009 at 2:00 pm

This is a wonderful list – at Green Home we’re having a special promotion on our green back to school supplies. It is always a challenge to get the word out about how easy and affordable it is to go green, especially for school. Protecting our Earth’s precious resources and reducing the amount of unnecessary waste is an ongoing commitment and must become a daily habit. We’ve got lots of solutions here:

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