A Guide to Essential Eco-Friendly Back to School Supplies [2021 Edition]

A Guide to Essential Eco-Friendly Back to School Supplies [2021 Edition]

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Whether you’re an eco-conscious parent getting prepared for when the kids go back to school or you’re a mindful student looking for low-impact school supplies to stock up on, we hope this list of eco-friendly back to school items will help you find those essential school supplies whilst keeping your eco-footprint minimal.

1. Papier notebooks

Papier’s vast range of stylish, eco-friendly notebooks are produced on a made-to-order basis using FSC-certified paper. Since all products are customised, the company holds minimal inventory, has fewer returns and its packaging is also recyclable and biodegradable. We also love that this British brand supports the work of emerging and professional artists, illustrators and designers across the world.

Browse Papier’s sustainable notebooks here.

10 Essential Eco-Friendly Back to School Items

2. Sprout pencils

Made from sustainably sourced wood, Sprout pencils are the original plantable and patented seed pencils that are lead-free and non-toxic. When you’ve finally whittled down the pencils until they are no longer usable, just plant it in a pot with some healthy soil and watch it sprout. The eight-pack of coloured Sprout pencils make a great back to school item for primary (elementary) school kids.

Shop here.

3. Onyx + Green scissors

Unlike the standard plastic-handled scissors you often find in a discount retail store, the handles on these scissors are made from 100% biodegradable corn plastic. Onyx + Green eco-friendly scissors are designed in Canada, ethically made in China and also feature durable stainless steel blades.

Grab yours here.

4. Ponderlily weekly planner

If you want to keep organised and track your goals in 2021, you’ll need an organiser or planner. British eco-conscious stationery brand Ponderlily creates Instagrammable and super functional eco-luxe weekly planners and diaries that will have you going back to work, school or college in style. These sustainably-made planners are ethically manufactured in Europe using FSC-certified recycled paper and are so pretty, you’ll want to whip them out and scribble all over them just for the hell of it.

Shop Ponderlily planners here.

5. Wisdom Supply Co. Zero Waste Binder Kit

Veto those awful plastic binders for this cardboard binder instead. Wisdom Supply Co. binders (US$7.99) require customers to spend five minutes assembling with a Phillips head screwdriver to hit home to them that these binders are removable, replaceable and recyclable and not to be landfilled when they become worn and torn. This binder kit is a learning tool to help customers “unlearn binder disposability”.

Get Wisdom Supply Co. binder kit here.

6. Non-Toxic Glue Stick

This plant-based glue stick by Onyx & Green is non-toxic and packaged in recycled materials. It dries very quickly, has a clear consistency and is easily washed off hands.

Get your pack of two eco-friendly glue sticks here

7. Package Free Shop Plastic-Free Pocket Folder

Say no to plastic pockets with these plastic-free 100% recycled paper pocket folders that will help to keep notes organised without contributing to the global plastic waste problem. At the end of their life, when they become torn and mangled, you can compost them or toss into your kerbside recycling bin.

Price US $2.50 for a set of three. Buy it here.

8. Beekeeper Parade Pencil Pouch

Australian social enterprise Beekeeper Parade tackles the issue of textile waste by upcycling scrap and left-over fabrics into cool and fun functional bags, backpacks and snazzy accessories whilst offering sustainable employment and funding vital school building and education-based projects in Cambodia. Their range of pouches come in a broad range of bold prints and bright colours, and are ideal for storing pencils and other writing equipment.

Shop Beekeeper Parade here.

9. Bamboo Refillable Pen

Made from sustainable bamboo, this black ball point reusable and refillable pen (A$9.95) should last you a lifetime; all you need to do is replace the ink cartridge when it’s done (only black cartridge available).

Grab yours from Biome Eco Stores here.

10. Recycled Post-It Greener Notes

The greener version of the Post-it Note, these are made from 100% recycled paper and made with a 67% plant-based adhesive. As with the original product, these can also be recycled and composted.

Get these Recycled Post-It Greener Notes here.

11. Terra Thread ethical backpack

The affordable Terra Thread ‘Earth Backpack‘ (US$50) is made from heavy-duty 100% GOTS-certified organic and fairtrade cotton canvas, features low impact GOTS-certified dyes and is manufactured in a fair-trade certified factory. All detailing including zippers and fasteners are lead-free. The backpacks feature a large exterior pocket ideal for storing books and notebooks, one small interior pocket, and a laptop compartment.

This ethical backpack comes in variety of popular colours including black, green and red and is suitable for high school and college students alike. Each backpack purchase also contributes 20 meals to children, families, and seniors in need in the United States through the brand’s charity partner Feeding America. 

Purchase a Terra Thread backpack here.

Ethical backpacks for back to school

12. ECO. Modern Essentials hand sanitiser

If you’re going back to school or college, you’ll need to be COVID-safe. This means taking an effective hand sanitiser with you to keep on top of hygiene. ECO. Modern Essentials natural anti-bacterial hand sanitiser contains 70% Australian grown and sustainably sourced GMO free ethanol, and has the beautiful aroma and nourishing properties of lavender, tea tree. Vitamin E and sweet orange essential oils. Don’t leave home without it.

Purchase natural hand sanitiser here.

13. Ecomask filtering face mask

Continuing on with the COVID-safe back to school supplies, you really shouldn’t leave home without your reusable face mask– and Ecomask (US$27) is possibly the world’s most eco-friendly filtering face mask. Manufactured in Germany in a facility that upholds fair labor practices and uses 100% renewable energy. Made with ECONYL®, a 100% regenerated nylon fiber made from pre and post-consumer waste such as nylon scraps and fishing nets, these face masks will protect you from contracting COVID-19 whilst enabling you to follow health protocols and regulations of your school, college and workplace.

Get your Ecomask here.

14. Zero waste lunch box

Pack lunches in a reusable, washable lunch box that is BPA-free, but also free from PVC, lead and phthalates as these chemicals can leach into the food stored inside, and pollute the environment in production and disposal. Australia’s leading eco-store Biome stocks a wide range of stainless steel, glass and BPA-free zero waste lunch boxes for kids and adults starting from just A$17.95. In the United States, the ECOlunchbox (US$34.95) has a range of stainless steel 3-in-1 bento boxes that are dishwasher safe too. 

Related Post: 20 Items That Should Be On Your Zero Waste List


15. Sustomi lunch bag

No need to carry around your lunch in horrible plastic bags or unsightly lunch bags with these zero waste lunch bags from Australian eco-lifestyle brand SUSTOMi. Made from washable paper, they will bring some much-needed sustainable glam into your school or work day and guaranteed to have people turning their heads to look at your accessories. Currently, SUSTOMi’s small washable lunch bags are on sale for just A$6.98 down from $19.95 so you save some money too! Ideal for storing sandwiches, fruit and other snacks.

Shop here.

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Disclosure: Details are correct at time of publishing. This curated list does not fully take into account all the ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying particular attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics. Click here to read more about our policies. Cover image via Ponderlily.

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