- backpacks: if a new one is needed, avoid vinyl and look for one made of nylon, hemp or organic cotton. Dsenyo makes cotton knapsacks in bright colors and prints and are handcrafted by women in Africa. A percentage of revenue goes back to their community for youth programs and health education
- pens/pencils: look for refillable pens and biodegradable pencils. There are pencils like the ones at TreeSmart that are made from newspaper
- paper/notebooks/binders: most stores sell recycled paper-you just have to look for it. Instead of the conventional plastic binders, look for an alternative like those at Jorgel Binders, which are made from cardboard and have removable and reusable metal rings inside. Ecojot's notebooks are made of recycled paper, and they have a limited edition line whose proceeds benefit the Jane Goodall Institute
- lunch: a washable and reusable container to create a zero-waste lunch is ideal. The Whimsy Reusable Lunch Kit includes napkins, containers and a recycled lunch sack
- clothes: the majority of money spent on back to school shopping goes towards new clothes. Thrift stores or clothes swapping with friends is a great way to save. If buying new clothes, look for quality as well as sustainable fabrics like bamboo and organic cotton as opposed to cheap items that will wear out quickly
Take this time as yet another opportunity to share with your kids why these green practices are so important. It is worth planning ahead and going a little out of your way to make sure we take care of our planet whenever and however we can.