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Simple Ways To Make Back To School Shopping More Sustainable

Image: Element 5

Summer is winding down, and families are gearing up to start the new school year off strong.  As we look forward to new beginnings and refreshed routines, families are pulling together their back-to-school supply lists. 

Shopping for fresh school supplies is a great way to build excitement about returning to the classroom. It is also an opportunity to test out more sustainable products and start conversations with children about how to integrate earth-friendly supplies into daily life. 

To help fulfill your school supply lists in one easy step, the Root & Vine team has pulled together some fun, durable, and sustainable products and tips. 

Take a look!

Pens and pencils:

Onyx and Green Recycled Newspaper Colored Pencils

Price | $7.99

This 24 pack of vibrant colored pencils look cute while being friendly for the environment! Their unique nature-inspired design, which is created from recycled newspaper is great for children who love to draw and color. 

For those who prefer pens, check out this 30 pack of Wheat Straw Pens. These pens are made from cork and recycled materials, rather than the more common plastic pen. These colorful pens are biodegradable and come in a compostable box.

Unlike traditional ink highlighters, these Eco Highlighter Pencils brighten even the most boring information without bleeding or drying out. They are biodegradable and longer-lasting than traditional highlighter pens.  (Hint: these make a great Bible highlighter for those thin pages without bleeding through!)

SFree from chemicals, these non-toxic crayons are safe for children of all ages to use. With a wide variety of colors, the crayons are made of plant-based materials and are washable.

Lunch products:

Kleen Kanteen Kid Classic 12oz Bottle

Price | $17.95

What’s old is new again. These compact and durable stainless steel lunch boxes are perfect for packing lunch. The three-in-one bento style lunchbox can fit a variety of foods and is equipped with kid-safe lids for an easy way to ditch the plastic. Even better, use these fun boxes to help teach simple nutrition lessons and portion size to the littles. 

Stainless steel doesn’t have to mean a blank canvas. Kleen Kanteen Kids stainless steel water bottles are covered with bright colors and designs. BPA-free and chip-resistant, your kids will go back to school in style sporting one of these water bottles. (Hint: The clips on these are super helpful for clipping to backpacks so they don’t live in the lost & found all year!)

Eco-friendly backpacks:

STATE Kane Kids Backpack

Price | $70.00

It’s hard to find eco-friendly backpacks that are fun and kid-sized, but we’ve got you covered. STATE has backpacks designed with kids in mind: with spunky designs and colorful patterns, students can don an eco-friendly style. They’re available in water-resistant and recycled material styles. For every backpack purchased, STATE donates backpacks and supplies to local students and schools. 

Hint: Has your student outgrown their old backpack? Consider shopping with thredUP to find  a variety of gently used backpacks that are like new. Upcycling or donating lightly used backpacks is a great way to teach students to recycle and give items a second life.

Paper and notebooks:

Michael Roger Decomposition Book Pegasus

Price | $17.95

No trees were harmed in the making of these notebooks!

And have you ever seen a notebook so beautiful? Each decomposition notebook has 80 sheets of 100% post-consumer waste paper. Students have plenty of design options to select from too. 

For students that like to organize with a binder, recycled college ruled filler paper and plant-based binders are a great option. This 150 sheet pack of loose-leaf paper from Ecology along with Earth’s Choice’s customizable binder with up to 25% plant-based plastic can help students stay organized this year.


If you plan to do your back to school shopping online, check to see if there is an option to combine products into one box for shipping. This step means one less box to break down and ensures your school supplies arrive all at once. 

But before you make that trip to the store, check to see if there are any supplies around the house, like old poster boards that you can reuse for future school projects. Arts and crafts supplies, half-used notepads and glue sticks can help students get started in the classroom prior to unpacking a fresh set of supplies. Create a fun scavenger hunt with your kids to look together for notebooks with blank pages, markers that could create a whole set, or repurpose a little pouch for a pencil case.

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