Preparing the kids to go back to school? While you may be feverishly getting them the stationery they’ll need to ace the school year, it’s worth putting in a bit of extra time to make sure you’re choosing eco-friendly options. After all, kids attend school for at least 12 years – that’s a lot of stationery that may end up going to landfill. Here’s our top picks for sustainable stationery to stock up on this school year:
Stapleless staplers are a game changer, saving you the time (and pain) of having to pull out staples before composting or recycling paper.
This one from Swingline can fasten up to five sheets of paper together by punching a small hole in the stack and tucking the punched-out tab under the bottom sheet.
Available on amazon.com
Plastic-Free Highlighter Pencil
Since highlighters are usually made with plastic containers, these plastic-free pencils from Staedtler are a great substitute. The wax lead is cased in wood that comes from Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)-certified, sustainably managed forests and best of all, the used-up stub is biodegradeable so you don’t have to worry about it ending up in a landfill somewhere, leaching toxic chemicals.
Available as a set or individually from Live Zero Hong Kong
Recycled Paper Pencils
Sure, wood is a better material than plastic, but these pencils take it one step further. Made from torn strips of recycled paper, they are completely tree-free, eco-friendly and biodegradable. However, they’re tightly packed, so they’re as strong as any wooden pencil, and they have a latex-free eraser at the end. Since they’re made with no harsh chemicals, they’re also suitable for curious young kids who like putting things in their mouths.
Available on ubuy.hk
Cotton Pencil Case
Many pencil cases are made of plastic, ending up in landfills and taking hundreds of years to degrade. These pencil cases from Firiri are made with 100% hand dyed and handwoven organic cotton, which is more sustainable than conventional cotton. The thick, ultra durable weave is designed to last, even when it gets buried under books in a backpack.
Available in a number of patterns and colours on Etsy
Natural Grass Pen
Forget using plastic ballpoint pens; these ones from A Good Company make pens made from meadow grass and BPA-free plastics! It’s also refillable, so you can enjoy your pen for years to come. What’s more, the factory that the pens are made in are eco-friendly, too; using a closed-loop manufacturing process, water used in the production process comes directly from the meadow grass and is continuously reconditioned, so the factory doesn’t require additional water inputs. Even cooler, biogas and waste heat from the production process are used for heating water, drying and generating electricity.
Available on agood.com
Plan your way to success this school year with a beautiful, eco-friendly notebook. This one from Tree&Journal is touted as a “zero-waste” notebook – the cover is made from natural bamboo (FSC-certified), the pages are made from FSC-certified paper and it is bound with 100% cruelty-free PU leather. Even the packaging it comes in is biodegradable and 100% compostable, and for every purchase, Tree&Journal donates a portion of its proceeds to TreeSisters, which supports reforestation programmes within the tropics.
Available on etsy.com
A 2021 study in Hong Kong found that 10 out of 19 crayon products contain toxic metal components. To address this, a company called Mizuiro developed a plant-based alternative for traditional crayons, which contain organic ingredients like rice bran oil and rice wax. The pigment is created by using recycled plant materials like outer leaves of vegetables which are usually thrown away after harvesting.
Available on hktvmall.com
For more ideas on how to make this school year the most sustainable one yet, check out Retykle founder Sarah Garner’s back-to-school picks.