Starting something new can often equate to spending a lot of money. Whether you’re beginning a new school year, heading off to college, or going back to the office after a break, you’ll likely need a few new supplies, but by being smart, a.k.a. “green,” you can take away a lot of the running around stress and certainly save plenty of your hard earned dollars and your health, too, now and throughout the year.
Pens and Pencils. Attention all pen chewers! (And anyone who holds their pens or pencils in their bare hands). Steer clear of pens in plastic casings and uncertified pencils as many contain harmful substances. Instead, choose pens with wood or biodegradable casings, and certified non-toxic pencils, both made from responsible and/or recycled materials in kind factories.
Safe Crayons. The major brands of crayons are made from pigment and paraffin wax, which is a byproduct of petroleum, and many have even been found to contain asbestos! Check out Eco-Kids earthy-colored eco-crayons that are made in the USA with natural wax and mineral pigments.
Reusable Water Bottle. Buying bottled water is incredibly wasteful, expensive, and simply terrible for us all. Instead, fill and refill a reusable non-toxic, BPA free and phthalate-free stainless steel or glass water bottle with any of your favourite healthy hydrators. Klean Kanteen for stainless and Lifefactory for glass are two great picks.
Organic Lunch Bag. We get so wrapped up in what we’re going to put into our kids’ lunch bags that it’s easy to overlook the bag itself. Tests have found disturbing amounts of lead in the linings of vinyl lunchboxes (that’s right next to your food)! There are beautiful options too — like Keep Leaf’s Insulated Lunch Bag made from 100 per cent organic cotton canvas, and Fluf’s hemp and organic cotton options. They are both durable, adorable, and easy to clean.
PVC-free Binders, Erasers and More. The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) wants you to keep the poison plastic off your back to school shopping list too, and they’ve created this PVC-free school guide to help. It’s full of PVC-free brands and where you can go to find them.
Airfree Air Purifier. A great air purifier can help protect you and your roomates against bacteria, viruses, mildew, mould, dust mite allergens, pet allergens, pollen and tobacco odors in your new dorm or residence. Just plug it in, and this tiny unit will take care of the rest.
Brain Boosters. Lion’s Mane mushroom tea is amazing support to help you stay calm, focused and clear. Pour a pouch of this good tasting instant beverage into hot or cold water and sip for increased memory and concentration, and to help boost creativity.
Insulated Food Containers. These are ideal for taking hot or cold foods with you wherever you go, and keeping them hot or cool until you’re ready to enjoy. They’re durable, shatterproof, leak-proof, and even have a lifetime warranty. Just toss them in your bag before class and be on your way!
Unbleached Paper. It takes some serious chemicals to turn natural wood pulp into an ultra-white paper, even chemicals known to cause cancer. Staples has a great 100 per cent recycled paper produced without chlorine or chlorine compounds that’s FSC certified and acid-free.
Safe Sounds. Listening to music stimulates the brain, and is definitely encouraged. But with all the noise on campus, it’s easy to turn up the volume enough to actually cause permanent hearing loss. Here are some safe options made from recycled and sustainable materials that are perfect for listening to your jams safely on the go.
Eco Tank Printer. This economical and convenient printer will be available in Canada in the next couple of months. It comes equipped with enough black and coloured ink to print thousands of pages before replacing cartridges (about 2 years!). Bonus, the replacement ink is also ultra-low cost, so you have one less thing to stress over.
A Great Toothbrush. We know you’ll be busy juggling a new exciting schedule full of sporting and social events, but don’t forget to take care of your pearly whites with a healthy toothbrush and toothpaste – check out our own list of approved oral care essentials. After all, a healthy smile makes the best first impression, and you want to make a lot of those.
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Hand Sanitizer. You may want to spritz something in between all those handshakes to manage the germs and bacteria. But many anti-bacterial soaps not only remove the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria that helps defend our body from the truly harmful ones. So for those times when soap and water aren’t readily available, opt for something that will get rid of germs safely.
Self-Watering Planters. The best decor (in our opinion) is also living and functional. Add a beautiful, air-cleaning, low-maintenance aloe vera plant to this self-watering planter that will help keep it happily watered for extended periods of time.
Glass Straws. Staying hydrated can improve your productivity and mental alertness, and prevent fatigue. Leave a glass of water on your desk with a beautiful, Strawesome glass straw and don’t be surprised to catch your colleagues checking out your cool and functional accessory.
Upgraded Brown Bag. Unlike disposable brown bags, you’ll want to use this stylish, reusable brown bag over and over again. It looks and feels like leather but it’s just made from coated paper!
Drawer Snacks. For healthy energy when you need it most, keep a stash of packaged real-food snacks at your work station.
*Remember, there’s a difference between what you need and what you want. There’s way too much that always goes to waste each year. The trick is to buy good stuff, take good care of it, and you’ll be able to use to for years to come.