5 sustainable back to school essentials for 2020

Put these on your list!

January 13 2020

Every kid has a shopping list as long as their arm for the school year and when you’ve all but cleaned out your local stationery supplies store (and your wallet) it’s a lot of stuff. When you consider that most of it will end up in landfill eventually, it really does raise questions about the impact all those bits and pieces can have on the environment. 

So, this year why not make it a mission to buy only sustainable school supplies? Kids of school age are learning about the environment from kindergarten, and they are a generation that knows about the importance of eco-friendly practices so you’re likely to get their full support. We all know it’s the little things that add up to make a big difference, so we’ve found five easy-peasy ways you can get your kiddo set up for school and know you’ve made a responsible choice at the same time.

Bento-style lunch boxes

These Japanese-inspired boxes are available everywhere now, and come in a variety of materials, from aluminium to recycled plastics that can be washed out and reused over and over. The design of the box negates the need for plastic wrap, because the box is divided into separate compartments for various pieces of food, from smaller sections for fruit or veggies to large sections for sandwiches or other sizeable items. Choose one with a snug-fitting lid so each item stays put in its compartment as the ones with loose lids can allow food to move around in schoolbags – and while fruit salad is always acceptable, a fruit-salad-sandwich-smashed-crackers combo probably isn’t going to go down a treat.

A quality water bottle

Plastic water bottles are supposedly recyclable, but when you consider that a plastic garbage patch bigger than Mexico has been found in the Pacific Ocean, it sure makes you wonder. Apart from the environmental impact, plastics can leach toxic chemicals as they age. It’s a smarter choice to invest in a quality drink bottle for your child that will go the distance. Thermos has a great range of double-walled vacuum-insulated hydration bottles that keep water cool for up to 12 hours. They come in various sizes and colours and there’s also a kids’ range with cool prints and designs, so they’re easy to spot in the playground. 

It’s a wrap

A more recent trend that’s catching on is beeswax wraps for food, to replace disposable plastic or foil wraps. Made from fabric embedded with beeswax, they’re washable, reusable and last for up to six months and can be used to cover anything you’d normally use cling wrap for, like sandwiches, cut fruit and so on. They’re handy for lunchboxes and you can use them in the fridge, too. There are also vegan versions that use cocoa butter with the same result – and these would be a good choice for anyone allergic to bee stings.

Pencils made from sustainable timber

Fact: Kids go through a lot of pens and pencils. It’s estimated that in Australia alone, over 140 million pens are sold annually, with most discarded after a single use and ending up in landfill. Plastic pen cases can last in landfill for centuries, but recycled paper pen casings can be recycled over and over. They’re also biodegradable when they find their way to landfill.

Pencils made from sustainable timber are also a great option, as they’re not causing the destruction of old forests. Even big-brand pencil manufacturers are now switching to sustainable timber, so keep an eye out for a mention of it on the packaging.

Choose ‘de-composition’ books

Paper use is one of the greatest causes of deforestation, so choosing recycled paper is a big step towards protecting the remaining forests as well as the animals and birds that inhabit them. Recycled paper composition or exercise books are a great eco-friendly choice and recycling them once your child has finished with them will ensure the cycle continues. Many large office and school supply retailers stock recycled paper book and printer paper ranges, so they’re not hard to find.