Greening Your Back-to-School Shopping List

This year, fill your kid’s backpack with eco-friendly school supplies. We’ve got the skinny on where to find them.

By: Lauren LaBorde

Back to School Guide

Tips From the Pros
Greening Your Back-to-School Shopping List
What to Do After School
Back to School 2.0: Gadgets for Students
Great First Day Clothes for Girls
Great First Day Clothes for Boys
Spicing Up Brown Bag Lunches
Getting In To Top Colleges

Getting the Basics

These reusable baggies for lunches could save a bundle for you and the Earth. Available at Greater Goods
Sure, Staples can cover your bases—the box chain carries Mead Five Star notebooks made with recycled paper alongside “green” binders and pens—but Target had some of the most unusual (and fun) eco-products we could find. Smencils are pencils made from rolled sheets of newspaper rather than wood—you can see the paper layers as you sharpen them. As an added bonus, the pencils come in scent varieties such as bubble gum, grape, cinnamon, and cotton candy. They start at $11.99 for a pack of ten.

Target also carries Elephant Poo Poo paper journals, which are made from—ready for it?—elephant dung. The 20-page notebooks ($10.99) come with pamphlets on elephants, so Junior might learn a little something, too.

Green Lunch

Brown paper bags and plastic water bottles are undeniably wasteful; try reusable containers that are not only functional but also stylish. Greater Goods on U Street, Northwest, has lots of solutions, including Lunchskins Reusable Sandwich Bags, colorful pouches made of a moisture-proof fabric that can even be tossed into the dishwasher. A set of two, which costs $14.50, comes with orange and green pouches that are decorated with snazzy patterns.

The To-Go Ware Stainless Steel Food Carrier is another good pick. The souped-up lunch boxes ($19.95) are lightweight, easy to clean, and good for insulating both hot and cold food. The lid doubles as a plate, and it comes with a smaller container that’s ideal for sauces or smaller snacks. For an easier-to-store option, the Acme Reusable Insulated Lunch Bag ($14.50) is made of recycled plastic and comes with a freezer pack. Pair it with a bamboo utensil set ($11.95), complete with holders made of recycled water bottles.

Speaking of water bottles, kids might like the animal-motif ones from Paper Source. The stainless-steel bottles ($21.95)—think dent-resistant!—are patterned with whimsical designs such as birds and monkeys. Here’s a bonus: A portion of the sales goes to support clean-water projects in developing countries.

Eco Extras 

Envirosax totes ($9.95) can hold extra things such as gym clothes or a lunch and be easily folded up and stuffed into another bag. The Flotsam and Jetsam tote bag ($14.95) is made from used plastic water bottles and has an artsy decoration. Who knew green could be so colorful?