It’s back-to-school season, and you know what that means. Fresh notebooks, sharp colored pencils, and crisp, clean backpacks. Shopping for school supplies was my bliss as a child. That, and cookie dough. Now getting green school supplies is easy because there are so many options out there. So first things first:


1. Backpacks. Getting an eco-friendly backpack can be as simple as getting one that’s built to last a whole year, one that you won’t need to replace come November. After all, some backpacks barely last a month, let alone a whole school year. But if you’d like to go even further than that, I've got the backpack for you. Conventional backpacks, especially the plastic ones for little kids, can contain potentially harmful chemicals and dyes. Enter EcoGear’s EcoZoo backpacks. These backpacks feature adorable furry friends and are made from recycled and renewable materials, don’t contain PVC and are colored with nontoxic dyes. EcoGear even has a line of backpacks for older kids too (in case your eighth-grader doesn’t want to carry around a backpack shaped like a panda).


2. Crayons. Traditional crayons are made from petroleum, so why not try soy crayons this year for school? Soy crayons were developed by two inventive young Perdue students back in 1993 as an entry into a soybean utilization contest. Unlike regular crayons, soy crayons are completely biodegradable. Two brands to try? Crayon Rocks, which are virtually indestructible and fun for kids to use because of their unique shape (which is said to improve your kid’s handwriting grip too), and Prang, which sells eight crayons for only a dollar. Who says eco-friendly gear has to break the bank?


3. Lunch boxes. Where do I begin? There are just too many cute, eco-friendly ways to bring your lunch to school these days! PlanetBox’s lunch boxes, made from stainless steel, are great for older kids and picky eaters who need a variety of foods to make lunch interesting. They’re also good for kids (and adults) who don’t like their noodles fraternizing with their fruit. Another option is bento boxes, which are colorful, contain no toxic chemicals and are super easy to clean. I also love the Kids Konserve lunch bags. Finally, I absolutely love the adorable Crocodile Creek lunch boxes that have held up perfectly through two school years for my toddler and are free of PVC and phthalates.


5. Pens and pencils. Another thing you can buy for your kids this year is Grassroots’ biodegradable pens. Made entirely from corn starch, these pens will completely disintegrate within a year of being thrown away. Try it out yourself in your own backyard for a nifty little science experiment. If your kids aren’t allowed to use pens in class yet, try these pencils, made from FSC-certified wood.


It’s always a good idea to include your children in your eco-friendly shopping excursion (whether it be at home or online). Let them know why you’re getting them eco-friendly gear and they’ll feel proud to take it to school every day. Remember, the eco-friendly choices you make with them today will make them responsible caretakers of the Earth tomorrow.


— Chanie


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