Be Prepared: Your Complete Back-to-School Guide

Elementary school classroom with students.

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Summer is almost over and school is right around the corner. To make getting prepared easier on you and your family, we’ve put together a back-to-school shopping guide filled with products that reduce waste and help lessen your collective environmental footprints — from preschool to high school.

Re-Zip Seal Lunch Bags 

The perfect solution for plastic baggie waste! These reusable lunch bags by BlueAvocado are sold in packs of two, four, or five. A leak-proof double-lock closure seals in freshness. Freezer safe and hand washable, they are perfect for snacks, sandwiches, and more!

Two-Tier Snack Stack


Does your student need a new lunch box? This compact, reusable lightweight carrier from To-Go Ware is a perfect size for kids’ lunches. It has a self-latching top container that can be used solo for snacks or smaller meals and it’s great for both hot and cold food.

Reusable Aluminum Water Bottle

Made in the USA, Liberty Bottleworks’ kid’s collection bottles are fun and brightly colored, encouraging children to stay hydrated. They make drinking out of a sustainable, reusable water bottle cool. And the BPA-free aluminum bottles will last for years to come.

Teacher and children in classroom

Hand Sanitizer Spray

Schools are full of germs, so send your little one armed! The Honest Company’s hand sanitizer uses plant-based ingredients to kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. The quick-drying spray leaves skin feeling soft, without a sticky residue.

Liquid Soap 

Help your kiddos take on the world with Better Life’s natural hand and body soap. This sulfate- and petroleum-free soap blends plant ingredients to gently clean hands and body. Safe for the environment, it combines aloe botanical extracts and vitamins to soothe and condition skin.

Oxy-Boost Stain Remover


With its naturally-derived ingredients, this bleach alternative from Natural Choices effectively breaks down organic stains like food, blood, and urine using oxygen for effective de-staining and deodorizing. Oh, and it keeps your whites naturally white and colors bright without harmful chlorine or phosphates! 

Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Easily wipe away pesticides, pathogens, wax, dirt, germs, and more with this 100 percent natural, nontoxic fruit and vegetable wash from Eat Cleaner. An added bonus? The food grade wash inhibits browning and helps food last up to five times longer. Bon appetit!

Biodegradable Laundry Detergent

When it comes to doing laundry throughout the school year, stains and odors are among your top priorities. With Mrs. Meyers 4X concentrated laundry detergent, you have nothing to worry about. Its dirt stain-fighting enzymes pack a punch on schoolyard stains, and essential oils leave your laundry smelling fresh. It’s compatible with both HE and conventional machines.

Beeswax Wraps

After disposing of plastic baggies, ditching plastic wrap is the next step. Verde Birdie’s beeswax wraps are a reusable, eco-friendly, and biodegradable alternative to clear plastic film. Brighten up your children’s lunchbox with these handy wraps!

Recycled Pencils


Send your child back to school with recycled pencils from TreeSmart. Made from 100 percent recycled newspapers rolled around No. 2 graphite, they’re just as sturdy as wooden pencils pencils and last longer. No toxic chemicals are used in manufacturing and the eraser tips are latex free. 

Reusable Notebook

On the high tech end of the list, Rocketbook’s digital notebook comes with a special pen that allows the pages to be erased with a damp cloth. Additionally, this notebook pairs with an app that allows for uploading notes to the cloud. So, after filling the book, your student can scan their notes electronically, then erase the book for further use, without wasting paper!

Images courtesy of woodleywonderworks

Editor’s note: Originally published on August 7, 2015, this article was updated in August 2019.

 

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