Made in USA Green Back to School Guide

Summer is drawing to an end and lists of supplies are arriving in mailboxes for dreaded back to school shopping. The conscious parent may be concerned about some of these back to school necessities. Choosing back to school supplies made in USA strengthens our economy, helps us protect our children from toxins and supports environmental regulations. I’ve wadded through the options for these school essentials, finding the best of the green American made options, as well as providing good and bad criteria to consider when shopping.

Made in USA Green Back to School Guide



Good: Notebooks containing 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

Bad: Spiraled notebooks coated in plastic containing PVC.

Top Pick: Night Owl Paper Goods Journals

woody wagon journal made in USANight Owl Paper Goods Journals are made from sustainably harvested birch wood and 100% post-consumer recycled paper, are biodegradable and made in Alabama,  $18.50.



Good: Cardboard or fabric covered binders.

Bad: Vinyl or binders covered in soft plastic.

Top Pick: ReBinder Recycled Cardboard Binders


ReBinder Original Corrugated  Recycled Binder, 1.5 Inch  (RBCR-R15-EA)ReBinder Reusable Binders are made from recycled corrugated cardboard with a replaceable cover for reuse and are made in USA, $6.49.

Lunch Boxes

Good: Cloth and metal lunch carriers or a small canvas bag.

Bad: Vinyl, plastic bags containing PVC or coated in PVC often contain lead.

Top Pick: Rebel Green Cotton Lunch Bags

Rebel Green Reusable Lunch Bag made in USA

Rebel Green lunch bags are made from 100% certified organic cotton, printed in eco-friendly inks in retro prints and made in USA, $23.95.

Water Bottles

Good: Unlined stainless steel bottles, aluminum bottles with BPA-free coating.

Bad: Clear plastic bottles, plastic bottles not stated to be BPA-free, aluminum bottles that do not state what they are coated with.

Top Pick: Liberty Water Bottles

Liberty Water Bottles, made from 100% recycled aluminum with BPA-free powder coating, are the only metal water bottle made in USA, $9.57.


Good: Cloth bags

Bad: Vinyl bags and shiny plastic-coated bags often contain PVC and lead.

Top Pick: Cinda B Junior backpacks

junior fabric backpack made in USA
Junior Backpacks are stylish, light-weight fabric bags with multiple compartments made in Indiana, $65.


Good: Natural wipes made from essential oils.

Bad: Alochol-based wipes and those containing Triclosan.

Top Pick: CleanWell To-Go Pack

Disinfectant Spray + Wipes To-Go Pack kills germs naturally with Thyme oil, made in USA, $7.99.


Other Good Places to Find Green Back to School Supplies Made in America:


Our Green House – backpacks, lunch bags and art supplies

Re-useit – reusable baggies, totes and water bottles

Shop to be Green – art and craft supplies

Mighty Nest – lunch bags, reusable baggies

ReBinder –  office and school supplies

Night Owl Paper Goods – notebooks, notepads, rulers, calendars


What criteria do you consider when choosing products for your children? Have you struggled to find the items on your child’s back to school list that met your standards? What alternatives have you found to conventional school supplies?


  1. says

    This is such a great list! I just got a sandwich bag from and I love it, such good quality! I’ve never seen cloth backpacks before. I want to raise my kids with reusable products, they aren’t school age yet but these are definitely things I will keep in mind as they grow.

    • Sarah says

      Reuseit has an amazing selection and I love that they feature all their made in USA products in their own section. What brand did you get?
      My son is not school-aged yet either; I’m glad we are learning about all these issues in advance!

    • Sarah says

      Sounds like a lot of us are in this same boat. Don’t worry, I’m sure I will come out with updated guides by then!

  2. says

    these are such good tips! i have only a pre-k student right now, but i buy these kinds of products for myself all the time! great list. pinning now!

    • Sarah says

      That is the beauty of this list- they are all products that really anyone could use for school, the office or everyday life! I have most of them myself.

    • Sarah says

      Caroline, I love your bedding products. I didn’t realize you had other merchandise appealing to younger children, thanks for sharing!

  3. Laura Broach says

    My new fave back-to-school product is bamboo paper! Oddly enough I found bamboo computer paper at CVS but they don’t carry it at Office Depot. I don’t mind paying CVS for it because it’s made using no trees at all!

    • Sarah says

      How have I not seen this yet? Bamboo paper sounds so soft and luxurious. I’d probably be afraid to write on it!

  4. says

    I really like the way you organized this article. Very user friendly. I would add vegetable and fruit dyed paints. Edible glue, Gluten free modeling dough for the younger kiddos. And how about solar cell phone chargers for the high school aged kids?! Next is the Re-usable sandwich and snack bags! I can’t even count how many bags we’ve saved with 2 school aged kids and a dad working outside the home! On another note (and feel free to edit this part off… We’d love to be added to your natural school supply vendor list. Here is a link to the art supply section: and here is a link to the re-usable snack bag section:

    • Sarah says

      Wow- thanks for sharing all those amazing product suggestions. I checked out your online shop and when I searched for made in USA over 700 results came up!

    • Sarah says

      I think I’m going to get one myself- I love the retro prints! Each one comes with a reusable cotton napkin too!

    • Sarah says

      Wow Christina- that is quite a task you have before you! What kind of things do the schools seem to be asking for? I had some Moms share that the required supply lists had toxic things like Lysol wipes on them.

  5. says

    Great list and I love those binders!
    Don’t forget about neat-os reusable snack and sandwich bags Made in the USA! You can see what’s inside while keeping your food fresh and kids can decorate them.
    Having a seconds “wonky” sale right now!

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  7. says

    Thank you!!! I have been trying to buy American made for over a year now and it’s tough. I didn’t realize that even school supplies could be toxic. This is very helpful and I appreciate all your hard work and research!

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