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Eco Friendly School Days

by Tiffany in A Green Home, Children, Environment

Is it that time again already?! Wow….summer flies right by and before you know it… it is time to think about sending your kids back to school. The local stores put out huge displays of Crayola crayons, pencil boxes, and backpacks. Parents and kids wander around with printed lists showing all of the supplies their teachers have requested for the year. In addition to the dent in parents’ wallets, there are environmental and social costs involved in all this school-related spending too. Well, I got to wondering what options there were for more sustainable, low impact, or eco friendly school supplies and I decided to compile a list of the cool green school supplies I found. Enjoy!

Eco Friendly Pencils and Crayons

Pineapple Flavored – Recyced Pencils – These are a truly great find. They are scented pencils made from 100% recycled newspapers. They sharpen and write like regular pencils but smell better and they save trees. Just one simple way to go green….

scents: bubblegum, cherry, rootbeer, grape, peppermint, watermelon, pineapple, orange, fruit punch.

Lyra Waldorf Pencils are artisan-quality watercolor pencils with a wide array of color options using fine pigmented dyes that work to create brilliant color variations, which are long lasting and non-soluble. Pencil colors in the set include: golden rod, lemon, orange, dark carmine, light blue, Prussian blue, sap green, apple green, van dyke brown, vermillion, venetian red and purple

Soybean Crayons – environmentally friendly Prang soybean crayons

Stockmar Beeswax Block Crayons are shaped like blocks. They are easy to hold the shape allows for different coloring possibilities. They also prevent the mess of a wrapper. Sets comes in a handy reusabletin, colors including; crimson, orange, golden yellow, lemon yellow, green, blue, rust and red-violet. Stockmar products are also certified nontoxic by the Art and Craft Materials Institute.

But if you want regular crayons you can get the Stockmar Beeswax Stick Crayons. This luxurious set luxurious set includes the following colors: carmine red, orange, lemon yellow, green, blue, blue violet, red brown, and black.


Green Notebooks and Paper

Nearly half the trees currently harvested are used to make paper!

Tree Free Notebooks – a sustainable substitute source for paper-making fiber. The growing demand for paper made with kenaf, a fibrous plant from the Mallow family that’s related to cotton and okra, has made it an increasingly viable alternative economically. Put simply, Kenaf offers a way to make paper without cutting trees, and the company’s goal is to increase the amount of kenaf fiber in Boku Books to 100% before long.

Elephant Poop Paper! – Yes this paper is made from elephant dung. In Sri Lanka, many elephants have been killed not for their meat, tusks, or hide but simply because they interfere with local agribusiness. A solution for villagers AND elephants alike has been to find ways to utilize the elephant as a sustainable economic resource. Since elephants poop about 16 times a day (wow!), elephant dung is a resource with the potential to solve the farmer/pachyderm conflict. Brought to you through Ellie Pooh, a socially conscious business in Sri Lanka.

Both of the above products are Fair Trade items as well.

Eco Friendly Backpacks

I have long been a fan of Crocodile Creek products. They have so many inventive products that are safer for kids. One of those products that are awesome for sending kids back to school is their line backpacks. Also their lunchboxes.

Solar Powered Backpack – This stylish and smart backpack is the first in a line of backpacks with an integrated solar charging solution. Perfect for the student, mobile commuter, and outdoorsman, this backpack provides a quality pack with an integrated solar charging module for your high-tech toys. If your child has a cell phone or iPod then they might really like this backpack.

EarthPak – The backpack made from recycled plastic soda bottles. They also have duffel bags, sports bags, computer bags, and fanny packs.

Recycled Hemp Backpack – Backpacks made from sustainable hemp and they are attractive too!

Basura Coin Purse -This is perfect for holding lunch money and they are made from recycled juice containers.

Basura Messenger Bag – For the eco-stylish this messenger bag made from juice containers is the perfect fit.


Eco Friendly Clothing

The number one green way to dress your kids for school is to use second hand clothing as much as possible. If you do buy some new clothes… go for sustainable duds that make a REAL statement!

Rawganique’s line of eco clothing for kids is made from certified US cotton.

Maggie’s Functinal Organics uses organic cotton, wool, and hemp.


Eco Friendly Lunch Boxes and Water Bottles

The Laptop Lunchbox – The ultimate lunchbox and my personal favorite. It is an American style bento box that promotes waste free lunches. This lunchbox helps me pack healthy and environmentally friendly meals for my son. Read our review here.

And while we are on the subject of lunch boxes I must recommend Mabel’s Labels. I have some for all three kids and I put some on their lunch boxes. They withstand the dishwasher, microwave, UV Rays and hard wearing children. And you can out them on more than lunch boxes. You can put them on cups, bottles, backpacks…you name it.

To-Go Ware Two Tier Stainless Steel Lunch Boxes – Stainless, stylish & stackable! This 2-tier tiffin system that hails from India. It is reusable, lightweight, and has a lid that doubles as a plate. It’s easy to carry and clean, but hard to live without. Great for both cold or hot food, and the planet, too. Fold down the handle to make it compact and easy to store. Perfect for work, school, picnics, or a night out (makes for a stylish doggy bag). One or two? Up to you! 

Find more bento lunchboxes

You may also want to try the Kids Konserve Waste-Free Lunch Kit. Kit includes a recycled cotton lunch bag with a recycled aluminum nametag, cloth napkin, 16 oz. stainless steel beverage bottle, Food Kozy and two stainless steel food containers. Read my personal review of it here.


Klean Kanteen – Another one of my personal favorites! These stainless steel water bottles do not leach chemicals into your water like plastic ones do and they are a much more sustainable option. They come in many different sizes and with different choices.

Sigg Reusable Water Bottles – These aluminum water bottles are attractive to younger kids.

Wrap-N-Mat – These reusable sandwich bags are perfect for wrapping your food so that you no longer need to use plastic bags. This cuts down on needless landfill waste.

LunchSkins Sandwich and Snack Bags – You’ll never need -or want- to use a Ziplock bag again! LunchSkins Reusable Sandwich Bags are a colorful, high-quality alternative to plastic sandwich baggies. Made from the same food-safe materials used in high-end bakeries and patisseries, not only will they store your food, they’ll keep in moisture and save thousands of plastic baggies at the same time.

Read part two of this installment!

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

30 Comments on Eco Friendly School Days

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  • Lisa

    Crack me up over the elephant paper! And those smencils look pretty neat – I was just thinking today about our numerous wood pencils.

    Here’s my link!

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  • Okay Lisa! You are the winner…I will contact you about collecting your prizes!

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  • Sharon

    Another green item to consider is the new green student planner by Success By Design. It is not only made of recycled products and uses soy ink, they are also setting up a program to recycle the planners at the end of the school year. Since planners have over 100 pages typically it is great to see a company that is creating this product and is wanting to be a part of the recyling of the thousands of these that are sold each year. I applaud them for their efforts!

  • Bill

    I found the recycled student planners at The company will even let schools and students return the books to them to have them recycled again at the end of the school year. What a great learning experience for children. They can use the planner all year and then participate in its recycling at the end!

  • Nona Nita

    Where do you find all these great things?! Thank you, thank you. They all make great grandparent gifts.

  • Karen (Pediascribe)

    I can vouch for the Smencils. We have the BubbleGum ones and YUM YUM YUM. The only problem is, it’s hard to get your work done when you keep smelling your pencil! :) Ours are about a year old and haven’t lost their scent yet!

  • sampada

    it is just wondreful and useful. but you still need to add more like what activities should be done by the students ,their duties,etc

  • There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to no-waste lunches…. I’m an eco-mom who has started my own green company You might want to check out my cotton, machine washable, very durable lunchbags that convert to backpacks. Great for kids 3 to 103 and they come with matching napkins, a stainless steel food box and a bamboo spork. Our ECOlunchbox Kit is 100% plastic-free, waste free, lead-free, BPA-free, PVC-free and vinyl-free.

  • Here is another ecofriendly product called the Greenciles. Check out Pencils made from recycled newspaper.

  • Darius Denzel Wesley

    woo hoo lets go green lol

  • Darius Denzel Wesley

    woo hoo lets go green lol yah dig

  • Great blog. Just discovered it! Love the ideas for green school supplies.

  • I have been trying to go more and more green. It is great that there are a lot more companies that are going this way. It does seen to cost more to save the environment, but don’t you think it is worth it?

  • If you are looking for an eco and easy way to pack healthy lunches for your kids, check out Made out of high quality stainless steel, its the safe, non-toxic alternative to plastic. With separate food compartments and hip magnet accessories, its custom designed for both kids and parents alike. Not your old-fashioned metal lunch box, PlanetBox delivers lunch transportation for the green generation!

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  • Louda

    smencils are packaged individually in plastic, so I started using O’BON recycled newspaper pencils. They’re actually much cooler looking, too.

    I also recently just started using their notebooks, which are made from sugarcane paper instead of recycled paper.

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  • impressive and very thorough list of resources and products, many of which I have never heard of…the poo paper just cracks me up …and who knew that an elephant could be so …industrious!

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the great list! My husband is a school teacher and sometimes buys need eco-friendly prizes for the kids.

  • Beth R

    Really helpful list! It’s so important to instill eco-awareness in kids and using this products can really help with that. I found some other eco backpacks on AskMelissa that are each made from 7 recycled water bottles – pretty cool. You can check them out here, along with some other back to school items:

  • Sarah

    Klean Kanteen is WAAAAAAAAYYYY to expensive! I found a great, affordable company

  • Green Guy

    Thanks for the great list. I think I’ll bring up Tree Free Notebooks to my company, they’re doing a good job reducing paper, but tree free sounds good.

  • Amy

    I love the smencils. My two older girls have been using them for the last two years. Their school in CA sold them as a fundraiser. Love the laptop lunch box idea!!! I wish there were some great ideas out there for lunches that did not have peanuts or peanut butter in them. We have moved to WA and the school here is peanut free. Very hard for my girls. Thanks for this site.



  • Osgoode Marley Backpack

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