11 Eco-Friendly School Supplies That’ll Earn You An A+ In Stationery Sustainability
From first-grader to CEO, eco-friendly school supplies and stationery give you the eco-edge.
Exciting as new supplies can be, they can also bring a sense of dread for parents and adults who are aiming to keep school sustainable.
Plastic packaging, toxic components, and boxes of unused landfill-bound junk, oh my!
Fortunately, sustainable stationery brands are numerous, especially among zero waste online stores.
To help fill-up your pencil case, we found at least one option for each category of low or zero waste school supplies.
So break out your school supply list, call over your kiddo, and use this as an opportunity to show them what conscious consumerism looks like in practice.
Besides, kids can still vote for a greener world (even if it is with their parent’s dollars).
And if you’re wondering what stores sell eco-friendly office supplies, this list is jam packed with adult options, too.
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Take Note Of The Top Ethical & Sustainable Stationery Brands
First, these responsibly-sourced wooden pencils teach your kids about sustainable materials. Once they’re used up, you can teach them the joy of gardening by planting the top seed capsule.
Of all eco-friendly stationery brands, Agood Company is cutting edge (and no we’re not talking paper cuts). Their elegant and durable stone paper notebooks redefine what it means to write responsibly.
And for all the little bits and bobs that are difficult to find made in a more sustainable way (like glue, scissors, and the like), Onyx + Green’s recycled materials make for the perfect study buddy.
To learn more about how we determined which natural or recycled school supplies got the best eco-friendly mark(ers), study our notes at the bottom.
Our Guide To Eco-Friendly School Supplies
- Sustainable Pencils | Visit Store
- Recycled Pens | Visit Store
- Notebooks | Visit Store
- Eco-Friendly Pencil Case | Visit Store
- Plant-Based Glue | Visit Store
- Recycled Paper Sticky Notes & Tape | Visit Store
- Eco-Friendly Erasers & Sharpeners | Visit Store
- Recycled Scissors | Visit Store
- Art Supplies | Visit Store
- Recycled Paper | Visit Store
- Laptop Cases | Visit Store
1. Sustainable Pencils
Price Range: $9–$50
It’s no secret, when shopping for eco-friendly kids’ school supplies, we search for biodegradable and recyclable, but Sprout World digs deep (in the dirt) and through innovation has created these plantable and biodegradable pencils.
Each pencil is either FSC or PEFC-certified, both sustainable forestry certifications that mean the wood is harvested from sustainable and regenerative sources.
After you or your kiddos have scribbled the pencil to a point it’s no longer usable, simply turn upside down and plant the small seed capsule for a green gift.
Carrying the European EN-71 safety approval certification, these eco-friendly pencils are as safe for your kid’s sustainable pencil case as they are for the planet.
Choose from plain graphite, colored pencils, and inscribed sets.
The Mindful Thoughts edition, which bears phrases like “All of us need to grow continuously in our lives”, might even help get those creative juices flowing.
We’ve personally tested these pencils out and love the feel of the uncoated natural wood texture beneath our fingers as we write. The graphite is high quality and writes super smooth, without smudging too much if it gets rubbed over (though a little smudging is unavoidable).
Just be sure to have an eraser on hand so you don’t habitually try to erase with the seed capsule top!
Speaking of, we currently have a pot of basil growing in the windowsill of our zero waste kitchen, successfully sprouted from one of these pencils and can’t wait until we can start cooking with it.
Another eco-friendly pencil option is “tree-free” recycled newspaper pencils like those by Amber + Rose.
These HB soft graphite pencils are composed entirely of recycled newspapers and magazines.
No wood at all, and they look pretty to boot.
With an easy peel-to-sharpen design, they’re perfect for kids—and you can compost the peels to help them learn fun composting facts.
They also make a wide selection of recycled paper notebooks. The paper is handmade khadda paper, made from recycled cotton, while cover materials vary between recycled paper and leather.
Some leather is recycled, while others don’t specify. Since we’re not sure about sourcing and processing of the non-recycled leather, we can’t say if these could be considered eco-friendly cruelty-free stationery.
2. Recycled Pens
Price Range: $8–$700
Their Natural Grass Pens are made from natural meadow grass and BPA-free recycled plastics.
For a durable metal pen, the Humanium Pen features upcycled illegal firearms. It’s “a testament that the pen is mightier than the sword”, especially since 25% of every sale goes toward projects tackling violent crime.
Agood Company is just that, a good company in the way they are making a big difference in the lives of those living without clean drinking water, through Charity Water.
Approximately upwards of 770 million lack access to clean and safe drinking water so, for every notebook or journal purchased, Agood Company supplies 500 liters of safe drinking water.
To what end?
Agood Company would like to fill a 25 million liter (hypothetical) bucket and deposit it to those in need.
Lamy looks fancy amidst your eco office supplies, but they made the list due to their refillable ink options.
A nod to the plastic free past, their pens have refillable cartridges or refillable ink from a glass bottle.
These durable pens are built to last, and spare parts are available at specialty shops, which makes them a great alternative to cheap plastic pens.
The best part is both works as eco-friendly products for students and working stiffs alike.
3. Recycled Paper Stationery Notebooks
Price Range: $18–$45
Have you been taking notes in your eco-friendly notebook?
If not, you can start right now.
Decomposition’s lovely college-ruled decomposition books are an excellent non-toxic and compostable note-taking solution. Each page is made of 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
With so many nature-inspired cover designs printed using soy inks, you can get something different for each subject or mood.
They also offer spiral-bound notebooks, but we’d opt for no spiral bindings to keep it minimalist.
If you’re impressed, these artsy sustainable stationery products, books, and greeting cards are made from recycled content and their production methods are powered by recaptured landfill gas (which is so cool).
Again, the proof is in the paper that Agood Company takes their environmentally friendly office supplies seriously.
For an interesting take on recycled paper stationery, their Stone Paper Notebooks are crafted from recycled construction debris—specifically, recycled limestone.
With a recycled stone paper box, the entire notebook is made from recycled materials, however, it is not yet part of the Agood recycling loop and is considered “waste-to-energy” in that it can be tossed in the trash after it’s filled.
Plus, Agood Company is a Certified B Corp and offers Climate Neutral shipping on all their modern eco-friendly office supplies and products—including eco-friendly phone cases, since those have become so integral into our professional lives.
4. Eco-Friendly Pencil Cases
Price Range: $14–$15
Are you searching for unique school supplies that don’t sacrifice sustainability for style?
YeetiArts has this one in the bag—or should we say case?
Their Hemp Pencil Case is made from sustainable hemp fibers, and its end-of-life high score comes from the fact it’s biodegradable.
The colorful options are the perfect storage for colored pencils, non-toxic crayons and more.
Cork Culture knows natural materials, if harvested sustainably, are the safest option for our backpacks, pencil cases and future.
Each of their cork pencil cases are made of 100% cork on the outside with a polyester fabric interior.
Deck your little Einstein or Artist out in eco-friendly kids’ school supplies with a sustainable pencil case reminiscent of Van Gough’s Starry Night.
5. Plant-Based Glue
Price Range: $5
Onyx + Green believes all school supplies can be sustainable school supplies.
Even tricky items, like glue sticks, which they make using entirely plant-based non-toxic ingredients.
In their words: “The greener, the better.”
Theirs are made mostly with post-consumer and post-industrial recycled and natural materials, like bamboo, stone, cornstarch, ramie, jute, and sugar cane.
As of now, however, not everything fits our definition of zero waste school supplies as some still come with non-zero waste components, so be extra mindful when selecting supplies.
Most packaging consists of at least partially recycled cardboard printed with soy ink, but some plastic is still used, so they’re not entirely a zero waste school supply brand.
6. Recycled Paper Sticky Notes & Sticky Tape
Price Range: $4–$9
Onyx + Green is at it again with more of the best sustainable office supplies.
Does anyone else love sticky notes as much as we do?
If so, it may bum you out to know most sticky notes aren’t often recycled due to their size, flying out of or sticking to the inside of a bin.
Onyx + Green’s Recycled Paper Sticky Notes are just as small and just as sticky, but what sets them apart from the rest is the fact they’re made out of 70% recycled paper and are compostable at end-of-life.
So as you work through all your scattered lists, you can toss these pieces of recycled stationery in your indoor compost bin instead of worrying about whether they’ll get recycled or not.
All shipping and packaging is recyclable, too, though it’s not 100% plastic-free.
Pretty up your eco stationery, decorate the envelope of greeting cards, and more, all without worrying about your environmental impact.
The tape comes in a matching paper storage box that is recyclable.
For each purchase of Washi Tape, Worthwhile Paper plants a tree.
7. Eco-Friendly Erasers & Sharpeners
Price Range: $2+
In case you haven’t noticed, Onyx + Green is perhaps the biggest name in sustainable school supply brands.
While making our long-running list, we may have scribbled a mistake or two, but these recycled rubber erasers save the day (in more ways than just erasing).
Their erasers are made of recycled rubber, alleviating the raw rubber extraction and making use of what has been previously harvested. The recycled rubber eraser is jacketed with a paper sleeve on a recyclable blister card.
But for taking care of the other end of the pencil, let’s commit to ditching those flimsy plastic pencil sharpeners that break—if they don’t get lost first, anyway.
Plastic Free Zone stands out for their bamboo pencil sharpener, as one of the few eco-friendly school supply brands to offer this alternative.
Alternatively, you can always opt for a simple all-metal brass pencil sharpener. Not only can you often find these from vintage sellers, but since most of the world’s brass is now recycled, these minimal green school supplies are typically recycled either way.
8. Recycled Scissors
Price Range: $7
Onyx + Green’s recycled plastic scissors are made with a naturally anti-microbial recycled plastic handle.
They are adult size, so while they may not make the sustainable school supplies list for little kids, they are the perfect touch for your drawer of recycled office supplies.
9. Art Supplies
Price Range: $10–$40
Conventional crayons are made of petroleum-based paraffin and are tinted with chemical dyes.
Time to color outside the lines with non-toxic art supplies.
All ingredients are sourced from American farms and have been grown without pesticides or herbicides.
In addition to traditional sticks, these crayons also come in fun shapes (like dinosaurs and fish) to stimulate kids’ creativity.
These zero waste school supplies are packaged in an uncoated cardboard box with shredded cardboard filling.
eco-kids makes some of the best eco-friendly school supplies for creative kiddos.
Their selection includes paint, dough, rulers, sidewalk chalk, origami kits, and more.
We love the looks of their sea & sky paint set, which includes a variety of non-toxic powdered pigments produced by the Society of Ochres, a centuries-old French company. Just add water, and your kiddo can create their masterpiece.
From eco-dough to beeswax crayons, everything is A-okay for even the youngest kids—being food safe, all-natural, and non-GMO—who might be tempted to put things in their mouths.
10. Recycled Paper
Price Range: $44 (for 2400 sheets)
Not only is Printworks paper made of 100% recycled post-consumer waste (specifically from food and beverage containers), it’s FSC-certified and chlorine-free.
Unlike many recycled paper products that get shipped to Asia and back again, the waste is collected and remade entirely in the USA only 300 miles from the mill.
This reduces carbon emissions from shipping more than their bulk 20-pound boxes that reduce reorder frequency already does.
It’s just as affordable as traditional copy paper, too.
We suggest sticking to their eco-friendly school supplies, as not all their products are equally sustainable.
11. Laptop Cases
Price Range: $59–$121
Whether you’re college students kicking off the school year, a senior in high school or a high-powered CEO, you’re likely carting around a laptop.
It’s a well known fact: it’s important to protect the eco office equipment and what better way to do that than with laptop sleeves made of recycled materials or new materials?
Bellroy’s Laptop Sleeve is made from recycled woven fabric with a microfiber lining.
In fact, all of Bellroy’s cases and laptop sleeves are made of recycled materials.
With a choice of 100% recycled polyester (from recycled water bottles) or 100% recycled nylon (from industry offcuts), you simply can’t go wrong with these eco-friendly options.
Bellroy’s leather product section uses leather from tanneries who have received a Gold Rating from the Leather Working Group (LWG), meaning they’ve got a gold star in environmental practices (and labor too!).
The cork fabric used in most provides padding and water resistance, while the cotton liner protects from scratches.
Other laptop sleeves are made of kraft paper lined with cotton or laminated leaves of the Tong Tung tree.
At the end of life, just cut out the metal snaps and compost everything else.
While mostly designed for Macbooks, the many different sizes available ensure you can find something for every shape and size of laptop.
From Hamburg, Germany, Sujittra loved coming up with “smart and functional designs” out of recycled natural materials like cork, kraft paper, wood, and leaves.
Everything she makes is 100% compostable: bags, pencil cases, and kraft paper backpacks.
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How We Found The Best Eco-Friendly School Supplies & Swaps
If that sounds like a lot to stuff in your brain—let alone your sustainable backpack—don’t worry, we’ve got a simple outline you can study.
That way, you’re always equipped to pick out the best eco-friendly school supplies.
Next, we look for recycled stationery and recycled school supplies. This might mean recycled plastic, paper, or even agricultural waste, just depending on what supplies we’re talking about.
- Certifications: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), Leather Working Group (LWG), Art and Creative Materials Institute
Supply chain & green practices:
We want to make sure the materials are not only sustainable themselves, but that they’re ethically sourced and ethically manufactured, too.
While some of these brands could certainly stand to be a little more transparent about their production processes, we especially appreciate the smaller brands that make all their products in-house, as this is the best way to ensure full traceability and control of the supply chain.
Plastic-free packaging, carbon offsetting, and any other ways companies are taking charge of their impact and working on eliminating waste makes them a teacher’s pet, too.
Final Thoughts On Sustainable Back-To-School Supplies
You have no need (or excuse) to buy plastic stationery when there are so many eco alternatives made by sustainable stationery brands.
Just remember to first use what you have. The most eco-friendly school supplies are the ones you already own. Or try your local thrift store for some second hand stationary steals.
As for last year’s leftovers you don’t intend to use, donate them to local schools or recycle them through Terracycle.
If you liked this article on sustainable school supplies, share it with a sustainably-minded student or eco-anxious parent who is already prepping for next year’s back to school plastic crusade.