School supply shopping can be one of the best times of the year. There’s something about starting with new pens, fresh notepads, and shiny new folders that can make you feel productive and ready to face the new challenges ahead. But when you’re browsing the aisles of your local shop, you may notice that so many things are just made of plastic. From bags to water bottles to lunch boxes to pens, plastic is everywhere. And eventually, it may wind up in a landfill or in our oceans. That’s why we wanted to explore ways you can be plastic-free this school year.
If you or your kids are especially hard on your bags, you may find yourself needing to buy a new one each year. We recommend choosing one mostly made of fabric, like the ones from Fjallraven whose Kanken model happens to be trendy right now. They even have the Re-Kanken model which is made of a polyester sourced from recycled plastic bottles. Patagonia and North Face also have good quality bags that will last you a long time. If you are looking to be entirely plastic-free, look for bags that are made from fabric, like a sturdy canvas model.
Reusable water bottles are everywhere right now, but many are still made of plastics. Try an aluminum version such as the Klean Kanteen Reflect, which is entirely plastic free. If you want a glass version, try Sol Bottles, which have a bamboo cap as well. The glass is protected by a silicone casing to prevent easy breaking.
Here’s a challenge: count up all the pens you can find in your house, bags, your car, coat pockets, and anywhere else they might be hiding. How many do you have? Do they work? Because chances are, you may not even need to buy more pens yet. Use up all the ones you have before buying some new ones. If you do need to buy more pens, try refillable fountain pens. You keep the same pen case but refill the ink cartridge inside. Pen Heaven has refillable pens of all types (ballpoint, fountain, rollerball, etc.) and the replacement ink cartridges and nibs. They also have a unique tool called the fountain pen converter which allows you to convert just about any fountain pen into a reusable one. (Read their blog post for how it works.)
While wooden pencils may not be as popular as the mechanical version, they are plastic free. And if you can find sustainably sourced ones, even better! Sprout pencils are wooden pencils that you can write with until you reach just a little nub at the end. Then, you can actually plant the nub and watch it grow into an herb like mint, thyme or basil! How cool is that?!
Each year, many parents find that their kids have sprouted up over the summer and can no longer wear the uniforms they just wore a few months previously. Before rushing to by brand new ones, ask your family, neighbors or fellow school parents if they have some in the size you need. It could be a good idea to form a community group to share different sizes of uniforms that may still be in good condition.
The classic Moleskine is a great option to be mostly plastic free (except for the elastic brand on some of the models). Their Cahier model has a cardboard cover and no elastic band. You can also pick up the Decomposition Notebooks on Amazon. They are made from recycled materials and are entirely recyclable again after you are done with them. For an option that is a bit more unique, you can pick up this notebook that is made of 25% recycled paper and 75% elephant dung from Sri Lanka. That’s right - elephant dung! It looks better than it sounds.
Sometimes the most plastic can come from all waste from lunch. From individually wrapped snacks and drinks to cutlery, there is so much plastic found in lunch supplies. Even reusable ones still can be made from plastic. However, Trouva has a great stainless steel option with a bamboo lid and a silicone band. While it is pricier, over time it would begin to pay for itself with the amount of plastic you won’t be using. My Cleverbox also has a wide assortment of stainless steel containers to hold all your lunch goods in.
Now that you’ve gotten your lunchbox sorted, don’t forget about your cutlery! Joseph Joseph has a great stainless steel and silicone set that you can slide in your lunchbox or backpack to use instead of the disposable plastic cutlery in the canteen.
It’s always a good idea to keep a pair of WUKA pants in your bag when you think you may start your period. Store them in our handmade in Nepal wash bag and keep some of your period needs alongside. We keep a packet of painkillers and a little chocolate too.
Key or Phone Trackers
While this may have plastic, it’s longevity and multiple uses make it so so handy. The Tile trackers allow you to find your phone, keys, wallet, or anything you put a tracker on. So if you’ve had to replace keys, cancel cards because you lost your wallet, or spent ages looking for your phone, Tile can help you find them in a snap!
Hope the list has been helpful for you to choose the #plasticfree options to your school shopping. Do share us your feedback and tips on other school essentials you have been using.
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Happy #BacktoSchool #PlasticFreeLiving