I loved August when I was younger because it was a chance for me to get new school supplies. I was definitely a nerd throughout school and would promptly color code my schedule and my notebooks upon receiving them. It was an exercise I love to do even when I got to college. It just helped me get organized. It's been awhile since I've been in school, but am now seeing lots of signs for Back-to-School and with that the endless amount of school supplies advertising.
While I don't have kids or have a need to go back-to-school shopping, I thought it might be a good idea to see what was in the market for back-to-school supplies, but try to do so plastic free. One caveat that as with all things, just because it's on the list or being advertised, it doesn't mean it's necessary. On a separate note, I just got done cleaning out and donating a bunch of unused school supplies to a local Family Center which goes to show you that supplies last awhile and some may be hidden in other parts of the house. Also, don't discount your thrift stores. Sometimes, they bundle office supplies together so it's another way to save money and use items before they go to the landfill.
I'm wondering too as an adult that if the kids aren't exposed to so much advertising, marketing and cartoons that perhaps they won't want all of the supplies that have animated characters on them. Do you think kids would be OK with unbranded, plain school supplies since they won't have a frame of reference on what would be "cool" to get?
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I owned a Jansport backpack for years. I think the key with getting a good pack is to make sure you choose one that is washable, maybe made of canvas material that is durable and easy to clean and lasts awhile. For years, I volunteered at a Saturday school and the kids would have these plastic backpacks with their favorite animated characters on them, but at the end of the year, these backpacks would be peeling or would have a rip after being thrown around requiring a new one to be purchased for the next school year. I think the key thing too is getting a pack that lasts throughout the years so getting something classic could be a good way to ensure the backpack lasts for the years the child is in school.
I like this backpack from United by Blue made of 100% recycled material, nylon and has a durable water resistant finish. The company, United by Blue, is a certified B Corp company and they also offer a lifetime warranty on this product.
Patagonia has a bunch that can be used for school and for the next adventure. Their packs are made of recycled polyester and a durable water resistant finish, they will last awhile. With their environmentally friendly practices and good repair policies, these packs can be a keeper.
These Baggu bags are made of 100% cotton with 65% being from recycled cotton and they are machine washable. No crazy designs so can also be a good travel pack.
Fjallraven has their packs in kids sizes. These are classic bags that are dirt-resistant, water-resistant, and wipes clean. I know these are classics because I've seen them on the secondhand market at almost still the price of the original so if they get tired of the color, you can always resell. Just take a look at the dimensions closely, the kids sizes may be too small and best to opt for the regular size.
The alternative too is to get something handmade in a fabric print that you like and one that can last awhile. Etsy has a lot of great finds.
I'm actually a fan of Guided products. I use their 5x7 as my personal notebooks for my book notes, to-do lists and everything else. You can find a review of the Guided notebooks and my foray into bullet journaling here. Their products are recycled, made in the USA and are easy to disassemble to easy recycling.
If you don't want to order online, you can check out the Oxford 2-Pocket Portfolio at Staples.
The key when getting these binders, notebooks and folders is to find ones that don't have plastic parts or a plastic coating. They should also be easy to separate from any metal pieces so it is easy to recycle.
Pens/Pencils/Crayons Oh My
It will be too soon before I actually need to a buy a pen. Even though I've been more conscious about refusing all of the pen tchotchkes and donating our previous piles or returning them back to work (yes, I know I've stolen a bunch of them!), we still seem to have so many pens lying around. Before buying pens, re-think if it's really necessary especially if the only reason they are being purchased is for the design.
These Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, which can also be found at Staples, come in paper boxes are are made of reforested cedar. These will last a good while and the classic style.
I think these eco-friendly, wood highlighters are just adorable. I wonder if I would have been apt to read more had these were around when I was studying. Not a single plastic casing with these highlighters and this particular one comes with a wooden sharpener too.
I have to say when I was younger, I loved the manual, hand cranked sharpeners and I still get a lot of joy when I see them randomly, mostly in old libraries, but alas they aren't as practical to carry with you so try these wooden sharpeners instead.
These wooden pencils also look cute, but come in some plastic packaging though, but love the look for a wooden ruler or get these wooden cases personalized on Etsy so there's no question who's supply this is if you've got multiple kids or adults using them.
For the sophisticated high schooler, a felt pencil case or makeup case would be nice.
I had one of those purple lunch bags that would easily be crushed by the weight of my book bag, but now it looks like they have so many fancy, durable ones like this canvas bag that's an upgrade from the brown paper bags.
I haven't gotten a stainless steel tiffin for myself, but I think these would be great in the lunchbox. These are leak proof too from Ecolunchbox. The lid is silicon.
Did I miss a back-to-school supply staple? What else is on the school supply list this year? Have you found a plastic free alternative yet?