Children, Families

Eco-Friendly School Supplies – Tried & Tested By Kids

eco friendly school supplies guide

Looking for sustainable and eco-friendly school supplies?  From pencils to packed lunches, eco-friendly school uniforms, and kids’ ethical backpacks, I’ve got you covered.

Let’s talk about eco-friendly school supplies. You see, here in Scotland we’re winding down the summer holidays and gearing up for the back-to-school season.

When I first wrote this post, my eldest daughter was just about a few short weeks away from starting school. Now, six years on I’ve completely updated this post for 2021, as my youngest daughter, who was just six months old when I wrote this post, is just about to start school too. Yes, I’m a little bit emotional about that! The reason for the update is that over the past six years I’ve tried and tested so many eco-friendly school supplies. What follows are therefore my most tried and tested mum favourites.

If your child is starting school soon too or going back to school after the long long holidays, then I’ve put together some eco-friendly school supplies for you. Some of them I kind of want for myself…!

Guide to the Best Eco-Friendly School Supplies

Image of colouring pencils with a blue text box that says guide to the best eco-friendly school supplies - from bags to bottles and more.

Here are my top eco-friendly school supplies ideas, from my most practical mum’s perspective. From school uniform to stationery, indestructible water bottles, lunch supplies, and everything in between, hopefully, I’ve covered all bases. Secondhand is always the most sustainable option, but if you can’t find what you are looking for secondhand then do try out these suggestions.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

Ethical School Uniform

ethical school uniform

If it still fits, then the most eco-friendly school uniform is the one you already own. If it doesn’t fit your child anymore, and you are looking for an ethical school uniform then Eco Outfitters* makes a wide range of 100% organic cotton school uniforms, for both girls and boys, up to age 11.

Eco Outfitters uniforms are made with GOTS certified 100% organic cotton and the dyes used are all Azo free. To make their school trousers last longer for your rapidly growing children, these also cleverly include a concealed elasticated adjustable waist. Prices start at around £15.

Eco-Friendly Kids Backpacks

kids ethical backpack as part of eco-friendly school supplies

My favourite place to buy eco-friendly kids’ backpacks is Frugi*. I’ve actually just bought this horse print backpack (£17.50) as my daughter’s first school bag. The outer fabric is made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and the lining is lining made from 100% recycled polyester. In fact, Frugi says it takes 7 plastic bottles to make this backpack. What could be better than a sustainable backpack for storing your eco-friendly school supplies?

From a mum’s perspective, I also love the stretchy side pockets of their backpacks. This means you can pop your kid’s water bottle in there, so in case of leakage, the contents of your kid’s school bag aren’t soaked. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and never doing that again! The inside is also really roomy – perfect for stashing all of your kid’s school supplies.

Eco-Friendly Stationery

I always found the best part of going back to school, was choosing new stationery. Thankfully, the eco-friendly school supplies market is getting more and more exciting by the day. These rainbow writing pencils* (£6), for example, are made from layers and layers of recycled waste paper. What’s more, when you sharpen the pencils the shavings look like rainbows. Too exciting!

These natural wood colouring pencils* (£3.50) come minimally packaged without any plastic and are a great size for popping in pencil cases.

And speaking of pencil cases, again Frugi* (£4) is a great choice, as all their pencil cases are also made from recycled plastic bottles. Surprise surprise, I bought this one to match my daughter’s school bag!

And for more stationery suggestions, do check out my guide to eco-friendly stationery. I’ve got even more ideas tucked away in that post.

Water Bottles

blafre kids water bottle

Over the years I have been on the hunt for the best kids’ water bottles. I’ve been looking for something that is dishwasher proof; leak-proof; doesn’t have a pattern on it, so can’t get scraped; and is recyclable at the end of its life. It’s been a hard search, but I’ve finally found it in these Blafre water bottles* (£15), available from Kidly. I’ve bought one for both of my kids, and for my youngest, I’ve upgraded the lid to the non-spill drinking spout.

For more reusable water bottle recommendations, do check out my guide to the best kid’s water bottles.

Eco-Friendly School Lunch Supplies

And for the one part of your eco-friendly school supplies that you absolutely cannot forget about – the all-important lunch supplies.

All kids in Scotland up to primary 4 get free school meals, and I believe this will be expanding to cover all primaries, so I haven’t purchased any lunch supplies. However, if I needed to, then these are the items I would probably be looking at.

This lunch bag from Frugi* (£9), again, is made from three recycled plastic bottles and is handy for keeping your kid’s lunch cool until lunchtime.

This bamboo lunch cutlery set* (£7.94) is nice and light – handy for stashing at the bottom of a lunch bag or lunch box. However, if you have an existing set of cutlery that could be used then that’s always a more sustainable and eco-friendly choice when it comes to school supplies (or any aspect of life really).

And this stainless steel lunch box* (£15). An old Tupperware tub or even an ice-cream tub would do the job, and be super eco-friendly. However, if you are looking to invest in a lunchbox then this could be a good choice. I have seen stainless steel lunch boxes on American and Australian sites, but have really struggled in the past to find a UK supplier of one that doesn’t have a plastic lid. The search is over. I’ve just discovered the Green Tulip store on Not On The High Street. You’re welcome.

You can also check out my eco-friendly lunch ideas, for more inspiration.

What About Eco-Friendly School Shoes?

Now, something I’ve really struggled to find is eco-friendly or ethical kids’ shoes. There are very few suppliers of ethical kids’ shoes (that I’m aware of). The two suppliers that I did find were eye-wateringly expensive.

I’m also loathed to recommend buying kids’ shoes online. Kids’ shoes are trickier to buy because ill-fitting shoes could damage children’s growing feet. I’d recommend visiting a local retailer and getting your kids feet measured and professionally fitted.

I go with buying the best quality school shoes I can afford, and then try my very best to look after them. Making sure they get dried out when wet (newspaper stuffed in them really does work a treat). And tending to any scuffs when they appear really does help school shoes last longer. I’ve got a full guide to taking care of school shoes so that they last longer if you’re keen to learn more.

Enjoy the rest of the school holidays!  Our plan for the last few weeks we have left is to get in as much bike riding practice (without stabilisers) as possible! As always, if you have any recommendations for eco-friendly school supplies then do share!

Children, Families, Garden, Home and Garden

Gardening With Kids: Tips & Ideas To Encourage Green Fingers

Want to help develop your kids’ love of nature, and their green fingers?  Here are some easy tips and ideas for gardening with kids, to get your children into growing their own fruit, vegetables and herbs.

I have my fingers crossed for good weather this weekend.  You see, I’d really like to get out into the garden with my daughter and start growing some vegetables with her.  It’s never too early to start showing children where the food we eat comes from.  I’m also desperately hoping that growing her own vegetables will help stave off that common toddler hatred of anything vegetable-based!

I’ve put a lot of prepping into creating a kid-friendly garden, so here are my top tips when it comes to gardening with children.

What Can I Grow In A Garden For Kids?

Image of kids gardening with blue text box that says gardening basics for kids to encourage green fingers.

If you’re as keen as I am to get out in your garden and do some gardening, then first things first, you might be wondering what the best fruit and vegetables are to grow with kids? The good news is that there are lots of things to grow with kids.

Fruit and vegetables-wise, it’s best to grow produce that is both easy to sow and grow, and that will grow quickly once you’ve planted the seeds. You really do need to see shoots quickly to keep their interest!

My favourite vegetables to grow with kids are fast-sprouting veggies like lettuce, radishes, carrots, and peas, which are easy and fun to grow.

Other things to consider are:

  • what fruit and vegetables will they realistically eat. Courgettes are quick and easy to grow, but will your kid even entertain the idea of eating a courgette?
  • fruit and vegetables that you can eat directly after picking are good choices. A lot of fun in growing your own is the picking and the eating. Having to cook something before eating it can take away some of the joy of growing for kids. Peas and strawberries are always a treat to grow, and fun to pick. And they’re even more fun to eat straight from the plant on a warm summer day!
  • are there things that you grow in your garden that will give you a continual crop for minimum effort and maximum reward? Soft fruits, like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc, will all continue to fruit throughout their growing season. This means your kid can go out into the garden and pick fruit on a regular basis.g
  • If you’ve got a small garden or if you rent, then consider what can easily be grown in containers. Potatoes are easy to grow in containers, and it’s always great fun harvesting your potatoes as it’s quite a muddy job!

What About Flowers When Gardening With Kids?

Of course, you don’t just have to grow fruit and vegetables. Flowers-wise, sweet peas and sunflowers and fun and fast to grow. You can even have a sunflower growing competition.

Use wooden lolly sticks to write each kid’s name on them. After you’ve planted the sunflower seeds, pop the sticks in the ground so they know which sunflower belongs to which person. Then have a competition to see who can grow the tallest. I would grow your sunflowers near a fence or wall for a bit of support, but if that’s not possible you may need some canes to help support them as they grow taller and taller.

Butterfly and bee-friendly plants are also fun to plant and grow when gardening with kids. Especially as kids get the thrill of spotting visitors to their garden.

I have some raised beds to make planting easy for my little ‘un. However, you could also use tubs or trugs, or even just dedicate a small area of your garden for planting.

Useful Tools When Gardening With Kids

Although you don’t need any fancy gear to get out into the garden with your kids (in fact, the older the clothes the better!), there are a few useful tools that make gardening with kids a little easier.  

Here are a few things I have my eye on that would be great for gardening with kids:

From clockwise:

gardening with kids equipment

Kids Metal Watering Can* (£9.89) – from eBay. I haven’t met a kid yet that doesn’t love watering plants.  Invest in a mini watering can for little ones and make a certain area of the garden their patch for keeping well watered. This metal watering can is recyclable with metal waste at the end of its life, meaning it won’t go to landfill, like plastic watering cans which are non-recyclable.

Bug Hotel* (£18.99) – from Not On The High Street. A bug hotel attracts bees, ladybirds, lacewings, and other minibeasts to your garden. This helps to naturally eradicate any hungry aphids that might want to eat your precious vegetables, and will also pollinate your vegetables too.  Children will adore looking for ladybirds and other minibeasts.  And a top tip. You don’t need to buy a bug hotel. Instead, you can also create your own bug hotel by leaving an area of the garden wild and unweeded, with logs and stones piled up.

Kids hand tools* (£16.95)  – from Not On The High Street. Investing in a set of kid’s hand tools makes gardening easier to manage for small hands. These ones are made from FSC approved wood and metal.

Kids Gardening Gloves* (£3.39) – from eBay. These will help protect little hands from thorns and other garden nasties, as well as helping to make clean-up time a little easier!

What If You Don’t Have A Garden?

Even if you don’t have a garden, there are plenty of things you can grow in window boxes and on your windowsill.  

Fresh herbs are quick, simple, and cheap to grow. This is a useful resource for growing herbs with kids.  

Chilli plants work well indoors, as do avocados (which are a lot of fun to watch growing). And there are always old favourites like cress and mustard, which are fun to grow in eggshells. These only take a few days to grow and can be eaten in sandwiches or in salads.  

I also heartily recommend growing snow pea shoots. They’re lots of fun to grow and grow really quickly.

Another fun thing to grow with kids is vegetables from food scraps food. Certain vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, onions, and garlic will regrow from the bits that you would normally throw away. It will blow your kid’s mind!

If you have any advice on gardening with kids or other suggestions of what to grow then do let me know in the comment below!