As the school year rolls around once again we’re starting to think about filling our shopping carts with back to school supplies. There’s no better time to stock up on eco-friendly school supplies that work well and go easy on the environment.

This year is particularly challenging given the COVID-19 pandemic, but even with that we should try and remember the toll that all these paper and plastic goods are taking on the planet. When we buy school supplies we should make an effort to look for products that minimize the damage done to the planet.

To help in this effort, we have put together a short list to help you find the most earth friendly variations of eco-friendly school supplies.

TIP: This article also includes a quick guide for what to look for and what to avoid when you wish to buy other eco-friendly school supplies.

The Best Eco-Friendly School Supplies in 2020

1. Simply Genius Eco-Friendly Pens

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The Simply Genius (100 Pack) eco-friendly pens are high-quality pens made from recycled cardboard and other biodegradable materials. While each pen is made to return to the earth in a natural way, they are also made to last in a pencil case without drying out.

These pens are a fantastic alternative to your normal disposable pens which contribute to the huge amount of plastic waste accumulated on the planet each year.

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2. EarthWise Office Products – Folder

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Earthwise provides a fantastic array of recycled products to replace many of the traditional office fixtures. This Earthwise pocket folder is the classic design, but is made from recycled paper.

Each folder is rated to hold the standard amount of 50 pages and can be relied on to last for months of regular usage.

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3. Pilot “Bottle To Pen” Ballpoint Pens

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These retractable Pilot pens are an amazing example of what can be done with ingenuity and the desire to make recycling practical. Each of these pens is made from at least 86% plastic water bottle waste! 

Not only are the pens made from recycled materials, they are also refillable, reducing overall waste in the long term as well. Get back to school while reducing plastic water bottle waste when you put these on the shopping list.

There are also highlighters and other types of pens (including gel pens) made from recycled materials available.

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4. Recycled 8-1/2 x 11 Filler Paper

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School requires a whole lot of paperwork, so why not use paper with a reduced carbon footprint. This paper is made from 100% total recycled content, with 40% being post-consumer waste fiber.

The materials are recycled, and 40% of the power used in the paper’s production comes from hydropower! This is one of the most eco-friendly papers out there.

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5. Faber-Castell Colored Eco Pencils

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These are the same colored pencils we all grew up with and loved, but are now made from sustainable sources.

Each colored pencil is made from reforested wood. Now you can enjoy drawing in vivid colors without worrying about the harm you are doing to the planet. Every little bit helps. These pencils have an eraser attached.

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6. Recycled Bamboo Paper Pencil

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Much like the other products on this list, this is a classic staple remade with recycled materials. In this case, the pencils are made from recycled bamboo paper, which makes them a highly sustainable product just perfect for your pencil case.

These pencils also look cooler than the traditional yellow style pencils and have a more natural feel to them. These pencils come with an eraser.

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7. [IN]PLACE Brand Heavy-Duty D-Ring

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You can’t use binder paper or get through a school year without a classic D-Ring binder. Since they are a necessary buy, you might as well get one made from recycled materials.

This is a 100% recycled materials D-Ring binder made in the tried and true style.

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Eco-Friendly School Supplies Buying Guide

Look for recyclable, reusable, and sustainably sourced

Your back to school shopping list needs to include tough and long-lasting products.

When you are looking for school supplies you should always make sure to look for products that have been made from recycled materials or sustainable resources. A good example is the bottle to pen product we listed here. Making sure that the products you buy don’t take a huge toll on the planet is key.

Another thing to consider is the many digital tools and methods of education out there today. While a digital classroom requires no paper, the electronics they run on do take a hefty toll on the earth. We must find a good balance. Some interesting options are “digital paper” products that allow you to reuse the same notebook many times.

Stainless steel lunch boxes, family safe crayons, soy ink and tons of other products all can be used as more natural alternatives that don’t rely on products like BPA in their production.

Avoid fake labels and throw-away products

While binder paper isn’t exactly durable, the actual binders themselves can last decades. When you buy products, just because something is recycled doesn’t make it good. If something is poorly made and falls apart five times faster than a superior product, then the energy wasted in its production often outweighs any benefit from the recycling efforts.

When you have to use paper products, try and use biodegradable binders and spiral notebooks. All paper products are disposable by nature, but things like spiral notebooks can greatly increase their lifespan.

Find environmentally friendly products that are well made and built to last – they should also take into account the natural environment when conducting their typical business practices.

Eco-Friendly School Supplies are Just the Start

Education is important, but there is no reason it has to harm the planet. You should try and make all of your purchases earth conscious and earth friendly.

Sustainable and recycled paper companies are a good start, as is the purchasing of materials and supplies made to last for a generation. If need be, leverage technology and make use of the ability to digitally take notes and conduct lessons.

If enough of us do our part, we will quickly be living in a happier and healthier world. We all want to work to be more waste free.

Consider these other Eco-Friendly Gift and Product Ideas:

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