Your green “Back To School” guide

by Tracy Stokes on August 9, 2007

in EcoKids

With only just over 3 weeks until the schools go back, it’s time to start thinking about stocking up on essential “Back to School” supplies and uniform for the start of the next school year. Green school supplies and uniforms are starting to make it into the mainstream, so with a little bit of forward planning, there’s no reason why you can’t choose the greener options.


Marks & Spencer have a Fairtrade range of white school shirts and polo shirts for boys and girls. They are reasonably priced and available in larger stores and online. They have also announced a new range of uniform basics made of recycled plastic bottles.

Spirit of Nature stock a range of Fairtrade and organic cotton school uniforms for younger children (up to 8yrs).

Clean Slate is an independent Fairtrade and organic cotton school uniform supplier. Clean Slate work with schools to supply Fairtrade and organic embroidered uniform, and encourages co-operative buying clubs to reduce prices.

If your school has a second hand uniform shop you may be interested to know that buying second hand is as eco-friendly as you can get when it comes to school uniform. If it doesn’t, have a look at Uniform2 to see whether any parents from your school have used school uniform available for sale.

School bags

For the littler ones, ECOutlet do a very sweet recycled children’s backpack. The backpacks are produced and traded according to fair trade principles by a women’s co-operative in The Philippines, made of unbiodegradable foil juice packaging.

For those with more books and homework, Natural Collection have a range of amazing adult sized backpacks made of recycled plastic bottles. The bags are water repellent, perfect for walking home from school.

Lunch bags & containers

The Ethical Superstore sells a lunch bag made of recycled juice packs. With a wipe-clean lining and strong handles. It was Voted Lunch Box BEST BUY by the Independent newspaper.

Laptop Lunches Bento Lunchboxes are a great way of reducing the packaging needed for packed lunches, and make it easy to include healthy options.


There is a good selection of back to school stationery at Natural Collection. You’ll find recycled pens made of car parts, recycled pencil cases made of car tyres, recycled pencils made of CD cases and plastic cups, and many other useful products.

Ethical Superstore sells wooden gel pens made of FSC wood from managed forests and notebooks made of recycled plastic bags.

Forget batteries, get a water powered calculator from Nigel’s Eco Store.

Useful websites

Sustainable Schools

Eco-friendly PTA fundraising ideas

  • Open a second hand uniform shop – parents can donate outgrown uniform to the school, who can sell it to other parents who would rather buy second hand. Good for the environment, and good for parents’ pockets.
  • Collect mobile phones and printer cartridges – raise money by collecting mobile phones and printer cartridges to be recycled with Recycool.
  • Collect second hand clothes and shoesRecycling Champions will collect clothes, textiles and shoes from your school and pay you for them.
  • Sell wheelie bin stickers with a recycling messageWheelie Bin Art do some very cool stickers for wheelie bins, and pay your school for each sticker sold.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

JHS August 13, 2007 at 5:22 am

Thanks for participating in this week’s Carnival of Family Life. It will be posted at midnight (PDT) at!


Hayley August 23, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Great article with some useful links; will link to it from our blog. Check out our Energy Watch page which is currently showing some further tips for an eco-friendly school year –


Caroline Miros June 30, 2010 at 6:44 am

Another great eco-friendly lunchbox is PlanetBox. Made out of high quality stainless steel, its the safe, non-toxic alternative to plastic. Part bento box, part TV dinner tray, PlanetBox is a custom-designed, all in one solution for packing well-balanced lunches kids love. Kids can personalize their PlanetBox with their choice of super hip magnet sets. Check out for more information.


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