As September approaches, it’s almost time to swap summer schemes for school schedules. It can be pretty easy to let your eco-friendly habits be quashed in favour of accessibility and ease. To make the transition a little easier, BuyMeOnce has put together a list of no-fuss durable alternatives for various disposable school supplies. All of these products are guaranteed to last you throughout the entire school year and — with luck and care — many semesters to come.

Words: Amanda Saxby & Julie Barriere

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Brilliant Backpacks

When it comes to school supplies, a trustworthy, durable backpack brings everything together– literally. Kids might need a new wardrobe as they begin to stretch into misshapen teenagers, but a tough, classic or stylish backpack can have them sorted all through their journey to later life.
JanSport backpacks are flexible, durable and, thanks to guarantee, protected for as long as you’ll be around. With a fully padded back panel and comfortable, ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps, schoolwork won’t only weigh less on the mind but less on the shoulders. The JanSport Big Student model features an easy-access front utility pocket with an organiser to keep your child’s pens and pencils in place while you run to catch the bus. With 5 zippered compartments and a side water bottle pocket, you won’t need advanced algebra to fit every single essential into one trustworthy bag. When finding the right bag is so easy, deciding on one of over 30 colours and designs becomes the biggest challenge.

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For maximum durability at a decent budget, you can’t do much better than a North Face backpack. North Face offers pint-sized (17-19 litre) versions of their traditional adult backpacks, making them the perfect size and weight for school children. Similar to the JanSport backpack, North Face packs offer a foam padded back panel, adjustable shoulder straps and a range of pockets and zippers to fit all of your child’s books and gear. The limited choice of simple designs is arguably where the brand falls below JanSport – but these are classic colours, letting the pack remain relevant for years ahead rather than a single season. One pack will take you to school and back again, up a mountain and down again, on a plane and safely back to earth. North Face also offers a lifetime warranty.
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2. Lovely Lunch Boxes

Lunchtime is easily and obviously the most wasteful period of the normal school day. Plastic wrappers and disposable bags, polyethylene cartons and pulverised straws. Ever-overflowing cafeteria bins topped up, landfill the ultimate destination. The earth can’t just suck it up. Luckily, there are few eco-friendly gems to can help cut down on lunchtime litter.
Investing in a reusable lunchbox like the ECOlunchbox Three-In-One eliminates the need for brown paper packs and plastic bags alike. As you may have guessed, the ECOlunchbox Three-In-One features three different compartments, making storing and separating food a breeze. The bento box is composed of 100% food-grade stainless steel and employs adjustable clips to make opening the box easier for little hands. Ecolunchbox also offers replacement silicone lids and clips for sale on their website, keeping your child’s box in tip-top shape for years to come.

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If you’re carrying something slippery and spillable, like last night’s pasta or a homemade chicken noodle soup, it’s best to store it in a totally leak-proof container. An 8oz or a 16oz vacuum seal container from Klean Kanteen will keep all of your child’s meals secure for life. The Kanteens are also shatterproof, leaving your child free to drop, knock and squash them as much as they please. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is remembering to pack a napkin!
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3. Perfect Pens

Our top choice, and ultimate BuyMeOnce pen, is an investment piece that could serve as the perfect senior graduation gift or as a lesson in responsibility and respecting one’s possessions for an older child. It has a premium price, but the Fisher Space Pen. is the only pen they’ll ever need, as it holds enough ink for the average lifetime, and is guaranteed never to break down. Plus it looks pretty gorgeous. When your child is in the middle of jotting down notes for tomorrow’s big test, the last thing you want is for their pen to run out of ink. Many kids  take in, five, maybe ten, pens to class each day. It’s best to be safe sure, but it does mean plastic pens get absentmindedly scattered throughout busy hallways. 
For a slightly less pricey alternative, consider a refillable fountain pen. Cross’ Classic Black Fountain Pen features a simple and stunning satin black and gold-plated design, an easy-to-use twist barrel and a lifetime mechanical guarantee. The only thing you have to replace is the ink cartridge. The joy of a fountain pen is that it molds to the user’s writing style making it as individual as they are and (with luck) a lifelong companion. 
You’re probably going to be a little nervous handing over an expensive Space Pen or fountain pen to your twelve-year-old. So sometimes the classics are the best. Paper Mate carries an inexpensive line of biodegradable pens and pencils that promise to be as durable as their plastic counterparts. The ink can be refilled, so you shouldn’t ever get left high and dry. What’s more, even if one should break, 75% of the pen is compostable and can be buried in your garden! (The pens come with disassembly instructions.)
TIP: For kids (and big kids) prone to losing pens, if you do decide on an investment pen, it’s worth attaching the lid to a ribbon/cord or extendible keychain clip. This can be attached to a pencil case or loop on the child’s bag. Tara Button (BuyMeOnce CEO) attaches her pen lid to her notebook ribbon to remind her not to leave the pen behind.
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Finding the right notebook can be a challenge. Every student has different needs when it comes to the object on which they rely during exam season — size, shape, weight, ruled or unruled, paper texture and thickness, coiled or leather-bound all become contributing factors. The quality of Moleskine’s products is hard to match. Their notebooks are made from environmentally friendly acid-free paper and are FSC-certified. Additionally, each Moleskine product is thread bound and contains a bookmark, band closure, and an interior pocket to store all of your child’s important papers. These notebooks come in assorted jacket colours, sizes, choice of ruled or unruled paper and hard or soft covers. Bonus — they’re also lightweight, durable and extremely portable, making lugging heavy binders a thing of the past!

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Clairefontaine is another company we’re passionate about. You can rest easy knowing that this manufacturer is 100% committed to waste reduction and sustainable living, because they control their own paper production! Clairefontaine’s personal pulp mill creates unbleached, acid-free paper printed with water- and vegetable-based ink. They offer several jacket styles in varying colours, prints and textures, so you can choose a different one for every class.
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As a parent, you know that one of the most stressful elements of back-to-school is clothes shopping, specifically finding that elusive pair of perfect shoes. Ideally, this would be a pair of shoes that are stylish, comfortable, and durable. Po Zu shoes tick all of these boxes. Their soles are made from a unique blend of coconut husk and natural latex (“coir foot mattress”) to create a breathable, shock-absorbant base. Additionally, all of the materials Po Zu uses are ethically sourced and made to last; the company offers a 12 month warranty against defective materials and workmanship on all of their regular styles. For the girls, the Ello V Natural Pinatex makes a cute Toms’ knock-off, and the men’s Brisk Black White is the perfect casual sneaker.

Well that’s our BuyMeOnce summer homework all done. We hope that this article has been of help to you; if it has, please feel free to share it with other parents who may find it useful. All that’s left to say is good luck to all the students starting again this year, you’ll be brilliant!


August 25, 2016 — Amanda Saxby