Eco-friendly school supplies
Back-to-School Hub

How to Find Sustainable and Eco-Friendly School Supplies

It’s back-to-school season! Do you remember what your favorite part of the back-to-school season was as a kid? I bet it was school supply shopping! As this season brings back all the feels, let’s learn how to find eco-friendly school supplies for our eco-kids.

What to look for in sustainable school supplies

When we’re looking for sustainable or eco-friendly school supplies, we want to take note of a few things.  

Is this product made from recycled materials?

It is common to see notebooks, pens and pencils, erasers, etc that are made from recycled materials these days. That’s great! You’re on the right track.

What happens when I’m done with this product?

The second thing to look for in sustainable school supplies comes at the end of its life cycle. Can the item be recycled? Is it biodegradable or compostable? Or will it get tossed into the garbage and end up in a landfill?  

We should consider both of these categories when shopping for school supplies and guiding our children to find the best solutions. 

What to avoid while school supply shopping

Now that you know what makes school supplies eco-friendly, it’s important to note what to avoid when school supplies shopping.  

Low-quality items

You want whatever you are purchasing to last an entire school year, at least. Avoid the cheapest items if they look like they will need replacing a few months into the school year. It is more environmentally friendly to spend the extra dollar or two for a longer lifespan.  


It’s tempting to stock up on items “just in case” or because something is on sale and you are sure you’ll need it eventually. But oftentimes when we buy unnecessarily, we are more wasteful and treat things with less care. We use things as disposable items rather than something that will last if we take care of it.  

Whoa, whoa slow down, right? This is just school supplies we’re talking about. But it’s more than that! The school supply shopping ritual is something kids look forward to every year. I did! But it’s important to teach your children values along with this fun shopping event.  

Eco-friendly school supplies

How to find sustainable and eco-friendly school supplies

Now that we know what to look for and what to avoid in school supply shopping, how do we find the best eco-friendly products? Here are some tips!

Familiarize yourself with eco-friendly brands

As the green living movement continues to pick up steam, we are seeing more and more companies developing sustainable products. This is so cool!

Here are some companies that should be on your radar: 

Decomposition (Eco-friendly notebooks)

Wisdom Supply Co (Zero-waste office supplies)

Eco-Kids (Sustainable arts & craft supplies)

Honey Sticks (Kids’ crayons and art supplies)

Onyx + Green (So many school supplies!)

Agood Company (A little bit of everything and a lot of good for our planet)

BIC has an “ecolutions” line that includes things like pens, pencils, and white-out made from recyclable materials.

Yoobi has an “evolve” line exclusively at Target that contains sustainably sourced materials and recyclable packaging.

Shop online

Shopping for school supplies online is easy. You can find everything in one place, shop at your convenience, have it shipped to you, and easily find what you’re looking for with key searches like “eco-friendly school supplies” “sustainable school supplies” or “recycled folders.”

Shop School Supplies on Amazon here!:


But if you are planning on doing your back-to-school shopping in-store, you can still take advantage of researching online first.  

Let’s say we’re going to do our back-to-school shopping at Target. I would go down the list of items we need and search each one on Target’s app or website to see my options. I would type in those keywords like “recycled pencils” and see what my in-store options are. I would then add it to my cart (or in-app list depending on where you’re shopping) for easy reference when I’m physically at the store.  

Now I’m going into the store to evaluate quality, choose colors, etc, but I’ve already done my research on the eco-friendly options ahead of time. This saves time and money – which brings me to my next tip!

Set a budget

Back-to-school shopping can get expensive. Eco-friendly back-to-school shopping can be even MORE expensive. If you’re shopping for zero-waste specialty brands, expect to pay a pretty penny. 

Whether you’re shopping online or in-store, set a budget per child that you’d like to stick to. This might vary year to year depending on what is needed, such as a new backpack or lunch box.  

If you have multiple children that need similar items, you can save a few bucks by purchasing bulk items and splitting them between your kids.  

Look for deals or coupons online before heading into stores and shop around while you’re researching to see if other places have a better price.  

Shop your home first

I don’t know about you, but I hoard school and office supplies. And remember what I always say: the most sustainable thing is to use what you have first.  

At the end of last year, my son’s teacher sent home all the school supplies we brought in at the beginning of the year that were not used. I put those bad boys away to save for this year!

If you have a fairly organized home and keep all of these supplies in one place, it should only take a few minutes to shop your home before adding items to your school shopping list. 

Not only is this a sustainable practice, but it could help free up space in your budget to splurge on some higher quality or specialty supplies.

Weigh the pros and cons and cut yourself some slack

Not everything is going to be sustainable or zero waste. There are going to be some items on your child’s school list that are just not worth it. It is your job to do the research, weigh the pros and cons, and decide what’s right for your family. 

Don’t stress over it! If you can find eco-friendly school supplies – that’s great! If your child needs a certain color notebook and it’s not “made from recycled paper” – it’s okay!  

You can still make an effort and do your part without being perfect. And most importantly, have fun! Make this a special time for you and your kids so they can look back on it fondly. Happy back-to-school season!

Eco-Friendly School Supplies

More back-to-school related posts: 

How to be Eco-Friendly at School
How to Get Out the Door on Time with Kids
How to Pack a Zero-Waste School Lunch
DIY Reusable Snack Bag Tutorial

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