Time for pencils, time for books, time for teacher’s dirty looks… also known as Back to School Time.

Back to school doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, it’s a pretty great year for all Recycled Binder rebinder PVC free back to school gearthings green.

While we’re spending time stocking up on all our gear, let’s take a moment to choose options that are a little greener… ones that are safer for you or your child, as well as the environment

Lucky for us, The Center for Health, Environment & Justice has recently released their 4th annual “Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies”. This helps parents and students make good decisions about purchasing PVC-free items. Don’t think this is a problem? Think again. According to the environmental centre, the average child’s character-themed backpack is loaded with the most toxic plastic for our health and environment: polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl).

Even lunch boxes, binders and pens can contain the toxic plastic PVC. This plastic can contain dangerous chemical additives such as lead, cadmium and phthalates.

To help yourself stay away from the chemicals, avoid backpacks with shiny plastic designs, which often contain PVC and lead. Use reusable cloth or metal lunchboxes, as opposed to plastic versions that are either made from PVC or contain a coating of it on the inside. Look at cardboard, fabric covered, or polypropylene binders instead of traditional ones.

Since over 90% of all phthalates are used to soften or plasticize PVC products, they’ve been recently banned in children’s toys. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t abundant in school supplies. Even worse, these chemicals are toxic to children, even in small amounts of exposure.

Here are nine of our favorite suppliers from the list. But don’t forget to download the guide and check them all out!



Rebinder binders are made from recycled corrugated cardboard. This cardboard is sourced from verified FSC and SFI certified sources. They come in a wide variety of sizes, and look cool, too!



We’ve talked before about how much we love Ecojot, a company that products awesome notebooks, organizers, and other stationary with 100% post-consumer recycled paper. The whimsical drawings and decorations on the gear is fun, and the heavy-duty design keeps your papers and ideas organized.



Good ol’ reliable PaperMate makes compostable and biodegradable pens and pencils that are made from corn-based material. These don’t have to be ordered online or found in a specialty store. You can find them at local places such as Sears, Target, Kmart, Office Depot, and Staples.



H&M have been touted for their natural and eco-friendly clothing lines, but what is even better is that all of their products are completely PVC-free! They make stylish clothes for women, men, children, and babies. Read more about some of their green initiatives.

Simple Shoes


Simple Shoes are another favourite of ours, with all of their products being completely PVC-free. They use a wide variety of materials, too, ones that are better for the environment, including bamboo, cotton, hemp, and recycled rubber.



If you want to find a mainstream backpack, look no farther than Jansport. All of their products are completely PVC-free. Their backpacks are made of materials such as polyester, canvas, leather, and suede. They aren’t necessarily the most environmentally-friendly, but at least offer a wide variety that are PVC-free and available at most local retail stores.



Who doesn’t love some good gadgets? Our friends at Apple have designed all of their new iPhones to be completely PVC-free. Their monitors are 100% PVC-free, including the power cord. Their iMacs are PVC-free. Their Macbooks, Macbook Pros after 2008 are PVC-free, including their external power cords. The iPad is PVC-free. See a trend? We love it.



Most reusable water bottles are PVC-free, but not BPA-free. Aladdin’s Sustain Clean and Clever bottle is made of BPA-free copolyester, and uses, on average, 25% post-consumer content per product.

Organically Hatched


Umbrellas just reek of PVC once you open them, and that is why we love the ones made by Organically Hatched. They are waterpoof and free of the chemicals, and look awesome, too! Every kids deserves a safe – and fun – umbrella for those rainy walks to school.