While shopping for new school supplies can sound exciting for little ones, it can frustrate those of us who are eco-conscious shoppers aiming to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle.
In America, a school uses an estimated 250,000 pieces of paper each year – just one school. Now, consider there are more than 115,000 schools in the US, and then how many there may be worldwide… We’re talking about billions of sheets of paper – and that’s just paper, without considering plastic products.
Thankfully, a growing number of companies are getting well ahead of the curve and are developing wonderful innovations in eco-responsible office stationery and school supplies. From paper made from sugar cane filaments to pencils you can grow flowers from, slowly but surely, sustainable school suppliers are becoming more accessible.
Viable Earth has curated a list of reusable, sustainable, and zero-waste school supplies to help minimise your carbon footprint.
21 zero-waste and sustainable school supplies
#1 Sprout World Plantable Pencils
Sprout pencils can be planted after you’ve used them and grow into herbs, flowers, vegetables or even spruce trees. The idea behind this unique item is that if you can give a pencil so it has a second life as a plant
The company says there are no special hacks for growing plants from its pencils: just place the green seed capsule in the soil, put the pot in sunlight, and water frequently.
#2 Amber + Rose Recycled Newspaper Pencils
Handmade by a social enterprise in Sri Lanka from eco-friendly recycled newspaper, each pencil helps reduce the amount of unwanted global waste and cut down on the usage of unsustainable resources. Each pencil that you buy not only looks good but does good too.
#3 Plastic Free Bamboo Pencil Sharpener
A sustainable, low-waste solution to keeping your pencils at their point. Made from water-treated bamboo and stainless steel. Stainless Steel is recyclable; Bamboo is compostable and biodegradable.
#4 Michael Roger, Book Decomposition Spirit Animal
Michael Roger Press’s 7.5 by 9.75-inch decomposition Book has a Spirit Animal cover depicting the woods with foxes, deer, squirrels, and other animals.
The lined pages, a clever take on the typical school notebook, are created from 100 per cent post-consumer waste recycled paper, processed chlorine-free.
The entire book is printed with soy ink, allowing the materials to be recycled repeatedly.
#5 Roaring Spring Environotes College Ruled 1 Subject Recycled Spiral Notebook
College-ruled Biobased paper contains sugarcane fibre and post-consumer waste, making this notebook certified ‘bio-preferred’.
Environotes is an earth-conscious line of paper products. This notebook recycled notebook uses 30 per cent sugarcane fibre and 70 per cent post-consumer waste.
#6 Onyx And Green 3-Pack Erasers With Sleeve
Made a mistake? No worries with this three-pack of assorted erasers that are environmentally friendly, being made of recycled rubber. These also come in a paper sleeve for easy gripping and come in a recycled blister card.
#7 Tyvek Eco Lunch Bag
Unlike flimsy paper bags or plastic lunch boxes, Tyvel’s lunch box is made from 100 per cent synthetic material from high-density spun-bound polyethylene fibres. Lightweight, tear-proof leak-proof, water-resistant, and fully recyclable. This insulated lunchbox will help keep food fresh for longer.
#8 Plus Paper Clinch Compact Staple Free Staple Blue
The Paper Clinch can fasten up to five sheets of paper without staples. Easy to shred and recycle documents without the worry of staples getting jammed. Without staples, just drop them in the shredder or recycle bin, making them not only safe but eco-friendly as well.
#9 Muji Staple-free Stapler
Like the Plus Paper Clinch, the Japanese brand Muji also offers a Staple-free Stapler. Aesthetic and ergonomically friendly, this stapler can fasten up to five sheets of paper at a time.
#10 Scotch Magic Greener Tape
Compared to traditional plastic-based tapes, Scotch’s Magic Greener Tape is made from 65 per cent recycled and plant-based material. It has a matte finish, an invisible design, and doesn’t dry out.
#11 Crayeti Family Beeswax Crayons
Made in Italy, Crayeti Crayons are made from 100 per cent pure beeswax from the natural honey cultivation of the northern Baltic countries, made with organic poppyseeds oil, and natural pigments. Colour variety obtained by adding non-toxic earth pigments, do not contain paraffin or cheap fillers,
#12 Crayon Rocks
While most crayons are made of petroleum paraffin wax. Crayon Rocks are made from US-grown and processed soy wax. The company combines this with other plant waxes and non-toxic powdered pigments to create beautiful colours. Afterwards, natural ground rocks give the crayons their shape, making a crayon that goes on smooth and blends easily and is, in many ways, much like an oil pastel.
#13 Edding 28 Ecoline Whiteboard Markers
The Edding 28 Ecoline Whiteboard Markers use 90 per cent recycled material for its plastic, sourced from post-consumer waste such as yoghurt pots or watering cans. It won’t dry out even if the cap is left off, and it can be refilled and used multiple times, making it very eco-friendly.
#14 Auddbeate Eco-Friendly Plantable Seed Crayons
After plantable pencils come plantable seed crayons. These eco-loving Auddbeate crayons have seeds in water-soluble capsules at each tip. Made with soy, using food-grade colours, and covered in a recycled paper body, they’re 100 per cent biodegradable and compostable.
#15 Rocketbook Smart Reusable Core Notebook
A notebook with paper you can erase and reuse over and over again. That’s the selling point of Rocketbook’s Smart Reusable Core Notebook. Although it feels like a traditional spiral notebook, the Core is an endlessly reusable digital spiral notebook, connected to all of your favourite cloud services.
When you write using any pen from the Pilot Frixion line, your writing sticks to Core pages like regular paper. The Core is erasable, reusable, and eco-friendly. It can also connect to cloud services for storage and organisation.
#16 Bazic Tree Free Copy Paper
Schoolwork requires a lot of printing, meaning hundreds of rims of paper could be wasted each year. Bazic Tree Free Copy Paper looks, feels, and functions like regular paper but is made of sugarcane waste fibre.
#17 Stubby Pencil Studio Eco-Friendly Highlighters
Millions of highlighters are used daily, most of which are a formulation of liquid ink or gel encased in plastic. They’re nearly impossible to recycle, so we throw them away, and the number is staggering. They are responsibly made in Austria (wood from managed forests) with a natural finish, so they are biodegradable (no plastics, no ink solvents, no volatile organic compounds).
#18 Book Sox Book Covers
Instead of using brown paper bags or plastic covers to protect your books, infuse some fun and variety into your textbooks while helping to protect and prolong their lives! Book Sox are all 100 per cent machine washable and reusable.
These reusable book covers are stretchy and can fit most books and notebooks.
#19 Guided Products Recycled Reminder
Designed with careful thought from the beginning to the end of its lifecycle, the ReBinder Original is made from recycled material and is easy to recycle. Minimal construction protects your documents without excess material. The round ring mechanism is easily detachable from the cover with two Phillips screws so that it can be recycled separately.
#20 Jute Laptop Covers
Accessorise your Macbook with handmade laptop sleeves and environmentally-friendly Jute (burlap) covers.
The most important benefit of jute material is that it is biodegradable and compostable. It causes absolutely no threat to the environment. This means you can cut it up and place it in your garden to replenish soil nutrients and reduce the risk of pests and disease. It also promotes water retention and soil moisture while supporting new plant growth.
#21 Pilot-Bregren Recycled Plastic Pens
Japanese company Pilot is repurposing discarded plastic bottles as writing pens. The line, dubbed Begreen by the company’s Australian subsidiary, includes ballpoint pens, gel pens, whiteboard markers, mechanical pencils, correction tape, and refills.
All are constructed from at least 70 per cent recycled materials and sold in plastic-free cardboard packaging.
Before shopping for new materials, check your home for supplies that are still functional and can still be used for the school year. Remember that sustainability begins with using what you already have and buying only what you need – and not choosing products just because they’re labelled “eco-friendly.”