Charity organization the Environmental Working Group has compiled an eco-conscious back to school guide to ensure that products for the new term are both good for children and good for the planet.


Many products required for the new school term contain toxic chemicals such as BPA , are made from environmentally damaging components such as crude oil, or are not recyclable. Create a toxin free and environmentally friendly back to school shopping list with this how too  guide.

1. Art supplies

Many art supplies contain toxic chemicals, paints should ebb water based and colored with natural non-metal pigments. Polymer clays -materials that stay soft at room temperature but can be hardened in the oven should be avoided as they are made from PVC and contain harmful chemicals including phtalates.   Safer, more environmentally friendly clay can be made at home using common baking ingredients.

Environmentally friendly art supplies can be found here:

2. Backpacks

Choose backpacks with natural fibers and avoid those containing PVC, however if all natural fiber backpacks are unattainable, polyester and nylon are a better alternative to PVC. Products containing PVC are sometimes simply labeled ‘#3', though in most cases manufacturers state if the item does not contain PVC.  

A selection of environmentally friendly back packs can be found here:

3. Lunch boxes

Lunch boxes should be made from non-toxic materials containing no lead paint, PVC or BPA in order to avoid contaminating the food. Alternatives to lunch boxes include cotton lunch bags, BPA-free plastic or unpainted stainless steel. To avoid unnecessary plastic consumption cutlery from home should be used rather than disposable alternatives.

Environmentally friendly lunch boxes can be found here:

4. Drinks bottles

Water bottles are a major source of environmental pollution, it is estimated that 90% of plastic bottles are not recycled and bottles deposited in landfill sites in 2006 will not begin to decompose until 2076. Alternative choices include reusable bottles made with BPA free plastic, BPA-free aluminum or stainless steel.

Environmentally friendly drink bottles can be found here:

5. Markers, pencils and pens

Many crayons contain paraffin wax which is made from crude oil and permanent markers contain solvents which can be harmful. Alternatives include crayons made from soy or beeswax. Pencils and Pens should be made from recycled materials so as to reduce their environmental impact.

Environmentally friendly pencils can be found here:

6. Notebooks and paper

Notebooks should be made from recycled paper and be bound with a cardboard, as opposed to PVC, cover. Paper products should be made from recycled materials and contain at least 30% post-consumer waste.

Environmentally friendly notebooks can be found here:


More environmentally friendly products are available through and eBay's eco-conscious shopping site.