Sustainable School Supplies

Sustainable School Supplies for Low-Waste Learning

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Environmental education has become a core subject in schools across the country as teachers seek to enrich their students’ appreciation of nature and encourage sustainable practices. Even better, eco-conscious kids can now swap regular items with several sustainable school supplies.

Naturally, sustainability doesn’t always align with learning environments when it comes to creating waste, and school supplies are often the culprit. The National Retail Federation (NRF) expected back-to-school costs to reach $36.9 billion in 2022 — about $864 per household.

Often, students show up carrying class materials with a high carbon footprint. Many products are also nonbiodegradable and nonrecyclable, using harmful chemicals during manufacturing.

Fortunately, students can transition to low-waste learning with these eight eco-friendly school supplies that promote a greener education.

8 Sustainable School Supplies for a Green Education

Parents who purchase sustainable school supplies can better support a greener education for their children. Here are eight alternative learning materials you might consider.

1. Out of the Woods Washable Paper Backpack

A backpack is the best place to start when shopping for sustainable school supplies. After all, they have to be able to transport their materials to and from school somehow. 

The Out of the Woods Washable Paper Backpack is the perfect choice for children and teens passionate about the environment.

The bag measures 15.7 inches long by 11.4 inches wide by 4.7 inches high, giving students enough room to store their learning essentials. There’s also a pouch for a laptop and several compartments for smaller items like keys and pencils. 

Although the bag comes from a trademarked Supernatural Paper — a sustainable resource derived from tree cellulose — it is highly durable, water-resistant, and surprisingly lightweight. 

2. Sprout Plantable Pencils

What’s better than writing with a freshly-sharpened pencil? How about planting it once it’s too short?

Sprout Plantable Pencils come in a pack of eight #2 pencils with small seed capsules at the end of each one. When kids can no longer sharpen the pencil, they can plant the decomposable cellulose-based capsule to grow herbs, flowers, and vegetables.

Depending on the eight-pack box you buy, the pencils could turn into sage, chia, daisies, basil and thyme, among other plants.

Plantable pencils are 100% biodegradable and sustainably sourced and manufactured. Sprout’s packaging is also certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

3. Roaring Spring 4-Pack Environotes Spiral Notebook

According to The World Counts, paper production — 93% of which derives from trees — will double between 2010 and 2060, leading to increased deforestation of global forests, which are already disappearing rapidly. In 18 years, the world lost 386 million hectares of forest — a 10% reduction of trees as of 2000.

The Roaring Spring Environotes Spiral Notebook includes four one-subject spiral notebooks made from 30% post-agricultural sugarcane fiber and 70% consumer paper waste.

Each book measures 11 inches long by 8.5 inches wide and includes 70 sheets of recycled college-ruled paper. The covers also use a high-recycled 25-point Reprise board. 

Roaring Brook’s Environotes product line is USDA Bio-Preferred-certified and made in the United States, making them some of the best sustainable school supplies for note-taking. With the four-pack, students can designate a different colored notebook for each class. 

4. Agile Eco-Friendly Pens

A recent Greenpeace USA report found that only 5% to 6% of the 44 million metric tons of annual plastic waste is recycled in the U.S. Unfortunately, the plastic that is recycled could take thousands of years to decompose, causing an inundation of garbage in our overflowing landfills. 

Agile Eco-Friendly Pens are a much better alternative to conventional plastic pens. Due to their 100% biodegradability and partial compostability, they make the perfect low-waste writing tools for eco-friendly students. 

The pens are created from kraft paper and utilize stainless steel ink chambers to reduce plastic waste. Each pack comes with 24 long-lasting pens in 100% sustainable packaging.

5. Three Leaf Recycled Paper Colored Pencils

When purchasing eco-friendly school supplies, remember to check out Three Leaf Recycled Paper Colored Pencils. This pack of 12 colored pencils works just as well as regular ones but is a much better option for the planet. 

Each pencil is produced from paper waste, ensuring they’re biodegradable and free of harsh chemicals and toxins. 

Green-minded students have all the primary colors at their fingertips for doodling, and the pencils’ durability means you aren’t compromising quality for sustainability.

6. EarthWise by Oxford Two-Pocket Folders

EarthWise by Oxford Two-Pocket Folders aren’t much to look at, but they’re the perfect sustainable school supplies for encouraging students’ eco-friendliness. 

Every box comes with 25 two-pocket folders made from 100% recyclable and post-consumer fibers. Even better, every folder has a 100-sheet capacity — 50 sheets per pocket.

You can purchase the EarthWise folders in natural, red, blue, or an assortment of all colors. Have kids decorate their folders for each subject with eco-friendly pens and pencils to make them their own.

7. Fluf Zipper Lunch Bag 

An eco-conscious kid will want to eat lunch in sustainable fashion — and the Fluf Zipper Lunch Bag delivers. 

Measuring 11 inches by 8 inches by 5 inches, this spacious canvas lunch bag is as green as they make them. The bag is manufactured using organic cotton fibers at a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified facility. Additionally, its lining comes from recycled water bottles free from BPA, phthalates and heavy metals.

Parents can easily toss this lunch bag in the washing machine and it’ll still maintain its durability for future uses. 

8. Onyx and Blue Eco-Friendly School Supplies Kit

Obviously, sustainable school supplies add up and are generally a little pricier than regular supplies. Therefore, parents and teachers might buy an eco-friendly bundle instead to start their transition toward greener learning. 

The Onyx and Blue Eco-Friendly School Supply Kit comes with the following school supplies:

  • Spiral notebook with 120 sheets made from recycled stone from construction sites
  • Three retractable black-ink pens made from recycled milk cartons
  • 10 pencils made from recycled newspaper
  • Three erasers made from recycled rubber
  • Double pencil sharpener derived from 100% bamboo

Additionally, the kit comes with a sturdy 12-inch by 14-inch burlap linen bag with a drawstring to hold all of the supplies. 

Eco-Conscious Kids Love Sustainable School Supplies 

Environmental awareness surrounds people of all ages — kids included. For many students, living sustainably has become one of their top priorities as they shift to greener habits and products. Purchasing eco-friendly school supplies helps eco-conscious kids transition toward a greener lifestyle more easily, whether at home or in the classroom.

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.