How To Bring Green & Healthy Values Back-to-School


School bus Drew

(image by Henrik Nordstrom)

My boys hopped on the yellow school bus this morning, ready for a new year with new teachers, new classes and new friends. They carried bags of school supplies with them (can you believe how long those lists are?) and a healthy lunch packed in a reusable lunch bag. Have your kids gone back to school yet or are you still enjoying those last precious days of summer?

Of course this means it’s time for the annual Green Moms back-to-school blog carnival! This is our 5th year in a row of curating posts from around the blogosphere about how to do the whole back-to-school thing the green, clean & healthy way! Big shout out to Lynn of Organic Mania and 4GreenPs who started this group many years ago!

Read on for tips, tricks and deep thoughts about everything from healthy treats to greener school gear to cleaner air:

Healthy Lunches

Leigh from Green 4 U has some tips for How to Pack a Green & Healthy Lunch including a cookbook that sounds really great!

Bored of PB&J or ham & cheese? Try these 4 back to school sandwich recipes from Lisa at Lazy Budget Chef!

The key to a greener packed lunch is using reusable bags, bottles and food containers. Lori from Groovy Green Livin shares her favorites.

Harriet from Climate Mama shares her kids’ new favorite healthier lunchtime treat (my kids love ’em too!)

One of my most popular back to school posts is this one filled with healthy lunch ideas called Healthy Lunch, Happy Child.

Nancy from Surviving and Thriving on Pennies has some fantastically frugal lunch packing tips like buying supplies at the thrift store and using what you already have.

What are the top 3 tips for a green & healthy lunch? Shane from Environmental Booty shares hers and advises not to let the green guilt get you down if you can’t be perfectly green every time. 🙂

If you are in the market for eco-friendly lunch packing supplies, Kathy from SafeMama has got you covered with her Safer Lunch Gear Cheat Sheet.

School supplies by My Tudut via flickr
Better School Supplies

Sarah from Mindfully Frugal Mom shares her favorite green school supplies including safer paints, recycled newspaper pencils and more.

We are testing out plastic-free Naked Binders this year. Read my review and why I’m confident they will hold up to seventh grade!

Amber from admits that it’s not possible to buy everything on her green wish list ($30 worth of beeswax crayons – no way!) but she shows us how we can still go green without breaking the bank.

Before you head to the store with your school supply list, hold a school supply swap with your friends and neighbors! Diane from Big Green Purse explains how this works and how to keep the 3 R’s in mind when you shop for the rest.

Diane also provides a list of greener, safer options for pens, pencils, crayons and markers.

Lori from Groovy Green Livin shares some greener choices for school supplies including better hand sanitizer and tissue options.

If crayons, markers and glue are on your list, you might want to check out my list of non-toxic art supplies.

Ditch the toxic, store-bought hand sanitizer and make your own. Gretchen from Healthful Mama shares a DIY recipe for homemade hand sanitizer.

Reusing supplies from last year is a great tip from Suzanne at Mommy Footprint. She’s got lots of other helpful ideas for how to save money and go green in her post about back to school supplies.

Anna from Green Talk also sings the praises of reusing school supplies, explaining that thrifty is the new green!

Surprised at the length of the school supply list? Not up for providing plastic bags and toilet paper? Ronnie from EcoNesting sparks a conversation about the over-the-top asks of cash strapped schools  and whether or not we should go along with it.

Katy from Non-Toxic Kids also raves about Naked Binders as an alternative to traditional plastic binders. And she’s a teacher so her opinion is GOLD!

For a list of greener, safer school supply options be sure to check out SafeMama as well!

Kristina from Greening of Westford has some great ideas for reuse including using those extra envelopes you get in junk mail for school related things like permission slips, Box Tops etc…

Eco gear backpackGreener Gear

Boycott back-to-school shopping! That’s what Free Range Mama from My Healthy Green Family advises. She explains why it’s important to control our consumption and buy only what we need, when we need it. 

Emily from Random Recycling shares some of her favorite eco-friendly back to school finds – that just happen to be fashion-forward too!

Tiffany from Nature Moms understands the importance of raising kids to be aware of their impact on earth. She shares 10 Ways for Tweens and Teens to Go Green at School.

Want to save a ton of money on back to school clothing? Shop at the thrift store! Betsy from Eco-Novice provides tips for how to find what you need for less!

Whether or not it is made from eco-friendly materials, buying a backpack that feels good to wear is one of the keys to using it year after year (which is big-time eco!) Lisa from Condo Blues shares 7 Tips for Buying a Backpack that Won’t Hurt Your Back.

What is banned in children’s toys but might be lurking in your child’s backpack or lunchbox? Lots of nasty chemicals! Penelope from Toxic Baby explains what’s going on and what we can do about it.

Looking for a better backpack? SafeMama’s Safer Backpacks Cheat Sheet is the place to start!

Sarah from Made in USA Challenge put together a Green Made in USA Back to School Guide including a really cute fabric backpack!

Also be sure to check out the back to school issue of Green Child Magazine for even more eco-friendly advice on school gear and more!

Safer Schools

Our kids spend a lot of time at school and unfortunately the environment isn’t always healthy. Katy Farber shares 5 Ways to Clean Up the Air at School on the Moms Clean Air Force blog. 

Ronnie Citron Fink from Moms Clean Air Force talks about why the Clean Air Act is so important and shares a poem about keeping our kids safe.

An unfortunate side-effect of going back-to-school is kids getting sick. Karen at Best of Mother Earth explains how classrooms are full of germs and how important it is to keep those immune systems healthy!   

How do you make walking to school more appealing than taking the bus?  You create a walking school bus!!! We have one in our community (although not at our school – yet). Do you?

Positive Action

Brenna from Almost the Truth asks us to reflect a bit and think about one positive action we can take to better the lives of children. Whether it is volunteering, donating supplies or money or simply reading to a child, there are so many things we can do. Join her in this back-to-school challenge!

Kristy from Radical Mom, Radical Kid explains how as a year-round homeschooler, the term back-to-school is meaningless to her! 

Tips for Teachers

If you are a breastfeeding mom and a teacher, Gretchen from Healthful Mama shows you how can successfully pump breast milk in your own classroom!

What are your tips for going back to school the green & healthy way?

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(School supply image by My Tudut via Flickr)

About Micaela

Micaela Preston is a marketing and communications consultant specializing in natural, organic and eco-friendly products and the health and wellness space. Micaela is available as a social media manager, green lifestyle writer, public speaker, brand ambassador and marketing manager.


  1. Karen Hanrahan says:

    Wow – this is such an impressive and resourceful gathering of posts! Has green moms carnival really been around 5 years already? Thanks for hosting us!!

  2. What a great list. I love Gretchen’s entry since it is the typical going back to school post. Great job of condensing all this green goodness!

  3. Great list! Thanks for putting this resource together. 🙂

  4. What a terrific overview. I learned so much from reading all these posts! And much of the guidance is useful whether it’s for back-to-school or day-to-day living. Thanks so much, Micaela.

  5. I agree Diane – there is always something new to learn! Even for those of us who have been working on living green for many years!

  6. This is such a great round-up of posts! everything brought something valuable for the back-to-school season. We start in one week!

  7. What an incredible resource for parents. Thanks so much for rounding up all these posts!

  8. I find the baggie dryers to be a must-have to reduce lunch bag waste:

  9. So many awesome articles! Thanks for pulling them all together and including me. Can’t wait to start reading.

  10. Great tips from all!! Thanks for including me!

  11. Desiree – I've been thinking about getting a baggie dryer. I don't use many plastic baggies but I always wash and reuse those that I have. Plus you can use them to wash reusable bags too, right?


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