When the summer comes to an end and fall weather begins to roll around, that means it’s time for two things: back-to-school shopping and Trick or Trash™ (more on this at the end of this article).
Just because the back-to-school shopping of yesteryear involved picking up lots of single use products, plastic lunch boxes, and junky snack foods, today it’s much easier to shop “back-to-school” sustainably.
To help you on your upcoming shopping spree, Rubicon® has compiled a few companies that offer sustainable alternatives to the usual back-to-school gear. Here are five small businesses for a “greener” school year:
Ecolunchbox: Lafayette, California
Gone are the days of sending your kid to school every day with a brown paper bag. Nor do you have to buy a plastic lunchbox that will clutter up the landfills once you’re done with it. Ecolunchbox makes the perfect plastic-free lunchboxes you can use to store your child’s lunch every day in an eco-friendly way. Their lunchboxes are made from stainless steel and non-toxic 100% silicone lids, giving you a food storage option that will last for quite a long time with the proper amount of care.
Ecolunchbox uses silicone for their lids because it’s long-lasting and free of estrogen-mimicking chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) that are often found in plastics. Not only that, but they also believe that silicone provides them with a durable, snap-on, leak-proof container lid that will keep food contained nice and securely. No more worrying about spilled yogurt and scattered pretzels in your child’s backpack (a win for any parent!).
Ecolunchbox is active in combating plastic pollution through the use of their eco-friendly lunchboxes. To that end, they’ve measured the impact of their sales on offsetting plastic pollution to find that their annual sales manage to avert the CO2 emissions of over 9 million pounds of coal burned. That’s no small feat for a lunchbox company! In addition to their stainless steel lunchboxes, you can also pick up a few utensil sets, bamboo straws, and tumblers to bring eco-consciousness into every part of lunchtime.
Check out Ecolunchbox founder Sandra Ann Harris’s episode of Rubicon’s Town Haul Podcast.
Wisdom Supply Co: San Francisco, California
The one part of back-to-school shopping where it seems near impossible to shop sustainably is the inevitable bulk purchase of folders, binders, erasers, and pencils in every color. However, Wisdom Supply Co. curates products that are all designed around reuse, repair, and authentic recyclability. This means that you can buy all the colored pencils and folders you want without fear of clogging up the landfills.
They offer zero-waste weekly planners, notebooks, and pencil tin sets that you can recycle once you’ve eventually run through them. They even sell zero-waste school supply kits that give you everything you need all in one purchase. If you’re looking to make their binders last just a little bit longer, they also sell replacement covers to help you get some extra use out of them.
EarthHero: Louisville, Colorado
Online shopping makes it incredibly easy to find eco-friendly options with the click of a button. EarthHero makes it even easier by providing you with an online marketplace to find environmentally friendly products. They list products that are sourced, manufactured, and shipped in a sustainable fashion.
You can find anything from organic cotton bath towels to baby strollers on EarthHero, but this company especially shines when it comes to back-to-school supplies. They offer organic cotton laptop sleeves from Terra Thread, and as any new college student knows (or is sure to find out the hard way), protecting your laptop is a necessity. EarthHero gives you a range of stylish laptop sleeves and bags to do so in style.
EarthHero is a member of 1% for the Planet, which means that they donate one percent of their annual sales towards sustainability initiatives. They also incorporate composting and recycling initiatives to reduce consumption at every level of the company, making EarthHero a company that really walks the walk.
New Leaf Paper: Walnut Creek, California
Unsustainable paper sourcing is one of the major contributors to deforestation around the world. New Leaf Paper offers a selection of coated, uncoated, and office papers all made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled content (PCRF). The company was created to help shift the paper industry towards sustainability by offering consumers the option of an environmentally friendly paper option.
The next time you’re picking up printer paper for school essays or projects, you can buy their New Leaf Ingenuity or New Leaf Harmony Offset uncoated papers. You can even buy matte-coated paper like their New Leaf Incarnation 100 to print off projects that need that special touch.
Tom Bihn: Seattle, Washington
The last and most important thing on the list is something every kid needs: a new backpack. Thanks to Tom Bihn, you can choose from sustainably made backpacks of all shapes, sizes, and styles. Whether you’re looking for something with a laptop compartment for a college student, or something small and sturdy for the first day of high school, their backpacks are all designed to be durable and comfortable.
Tom Bihn prioritizes mindfulness and takes extra time to ensure high quality. Their company philosophy is centered around interrelatedness, empathy, patience, and self-reflection. These qualities naturally lend to sustainability, so it’s not surprising that they’re founding members of the UPS Carbon Neutral and UPS Eco Responsible Packaging Programs. In addition, over 50 percent of fabric scraps from their manufacturing process are recycled to make new designs.
In addition to their backpacks, Tom Bihn offers a range of travel bags, laptop bags, and accessories. All of their bags are made with high-quality materials such as aether, an ultra-light nylon fabric with a water-repellent exterior. So the next time you’re heading out on a family vacation, you can make sure everyone in the family has something durable to bring along for the trip.
In addition to more sustainable school shopping, you can join Rubicon’s mission to end waste this Halloween by taking part in our Trick or Trash program! Research shows that in the United States alone, more than 600 million pounds of candy are purchased each year for Halloween. The vast majority of candy wrappers end up in landfills due to an inability by most curbside recycling programs to recycle them.
By participating in Trick or Trash, you don’t have to trash those candy wrappers and doom them to an eternity in a landfill or in our oceans. Using one of our custom candy wrapper recycling boxes, you can help keep our planet clean and contribute to the circular economy. Find out how you can take part on the Trick or Trash website.
Editor’s Note: References made to businesses/companies in this post are not meant to convey affiliation with or endorsement of Rubicon by those companies in any way.
Amy Koonin Taylor is Marketing Content and Media Manager at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.