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…!

Eco-Friendly School Supplies Ideas

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.

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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!

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 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 water bottle recommendations, do check out my guide to the best kids 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!

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