"Back to school" is a phrase that elicits equal parts fear and excitement in the hearts of many parents, or is it just me? As we approached this school year, I was preparing to send three kids off to school for the first time - one to first grade, one to pre-kindergarten, and another to her first year of pre-school. I am so happy for each of them as they pursue their own little slices of autonomy, and for me as I hopefully gain a little bit more sanity as we settle back into the school year routine. That said, I'm nervous, anxious, and a tad unorganized (hi, have we met, I'm Heidi). We are still living through a pandemic and all three of my kids started new schools this year. We're all receiving a lot of new information and experiencing so many new things. Add trying to be an eco-friendly mom supporting sustainable brands and using sustainable kids products into the mix, and it started feeling a bit overwhelming.
Over the past year, I have been steadily increasing our sustainable kids and baby offerings. Our little eco-friendly kids section has grown with a variety of sustainable kids apparel, wooden toys, art supplies, thought-provoking books, new baby gifts and more. Some of the reasoning for this is selfish - I was having a hard time finding sustainable and stylish kids products locally in Encinitas, and our family is committed to lessening our footprint when we can. I want sustainability to be accessible, for everyone. If you can't visit us in our beach town north of San Diego, we offer our entire product range online. We're proud to bring a range of eco-friendly kids brands from around the world to North County San Diego, and hope to make your life as a parent a little easier (*especially* during this hectic back-to-school time of year). Read on for our top sustainable kids picks to help keep calm and keep sustainable this back to school season.
Planet Box has revolutionized the lunchbox game with their stainless steel bento boxes that make packing eco-friendly school lunches a breeze. The founders are parents that became frustrated with the food waste and garbage that piles up with traditional plastic lunch boxes and little plastic baggies. Our culture is one of convenience, and sometimes parenthood requires this (no shame!). We are all doing our best when it comes to our kids, but these sustainable bento boxes making packing up eco-friendly lunches easy and breezy.
Planet Boxes are made with durable stainless steel that means they are built to last *and* easy to clean (including being dishwasher safe). The bento box style compartments mean plastic baggies are not necessary, and included sauce containers will help picky eaters keep items separate. This entices little ones to get a full and balanced meal and makes saving leftovers and preserving food easy. Planet Box has created three different sizes of their innovative, stainless steel lunchbox:
The Shuttle - the one great for little snacks on the go or for a little with a small appetite (perfect for my 2 year-old or snacks for my 6 year-old).
Each lunchbox seamlessly transitions into the next as your kids get older and because they last, you can reuse them with a younger child when the older one has made their way to the next size up. You may even be fighting for a turn to keep your own lunch on the go fresh and delicious.
A fun bonus are the cute mix and match magnets that lets your child decorate their lunchbox however they want. This has been a huge help in our household for creating excitement for re-entering the school routines. Who doesn't love personalization? We also have some super sweet, locally made love notes in our sustainable kids section that you can toss in their lunches to remind them just how much you miss them when they're away. Love and let the love flow.
I was looking online for some simple lunch ideas I could throw in here, and found a great list of 25 ideas and funny enough, they're using Planet Box's Rover (I told you, these lunchboxes are everything).
My son is a true artist and I've spent much of the last 3-4 years searching for eco-friendly school and art supplies to feed his obsession responsibly. We've got a great selection in our sustainable kids section of the store, from markers and crayons to paints and play-doh. One of my favorite brands that we carry, Yoobi, has a great "One For One" business model where each purchase made is matched by them with a donation. They've been able to give free school supplies to millions of children, and their products are super cute to boot.
Kids just wanna have fun and the bright and funky patterns CarlijnQ and Tiny Cottons are known for are just that! Plus, they are all mix and matchable and made with only organic and recycled materials. Did we mention they are ethically made in Europe, to boot? These ethical kids clothes are durable and longer lasting pieces, so that even when one child outgrows an item, it's still ready to be handed down to a sibling or friend, good as new. Tried and tested by my maniacal, super active six-year old.
Of course books go hand in hand with school, knowledge is power right? And our shop library is stocked with children's books that our own family loves, and we think your child(ren) will too. We pride ourselves on offering a selection of kids books that are not just fun to read, but that also promote inclusivity, self-love and appreciation for diversity. We hope to do our part in raising the next generation of kind humans that care as much as we do about people and planet.
My personal favorite from our current selection is "Courage Hats". It features a girl, Mae, and a bear named Bear. Over the course of one life-changing, slightly nerve-racking train ride, Mae and Bear find out just how much they actually have in common. This is a true pleaser of a story about the fear of being different, the ways we overcome this fear, and the fact that often what’s different is a lot more familiar than we might think. With courage, determination, and a dash of friendship, Mae and Bear discover all the humor, warmth, and beauty found in togetherness and in the unknown. We've been reading this one often in our house as we discuss the fear surrounding meeting new school friends and being in a new school environment.
For older kids, I am loving Peace and Me - geared toward 2nd grade - 5th grade readers (although I started reading it with my first grader and he is enjoying it!). This beautifully-illustrated collection of inspirational ideas about peace is based on the lives of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates of the 20th and 21st centuries, among them Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and Malala Yousafzai. This is a child-friendly exploration of what peace means to people around the world, and how people from all backgrounds are striving to achieve peace and prosperity for all people.
In the spirit of back to school, a quick reminder that teachers (of any kind) get a 15% discount store wide - all year long. Just show us some form of proof at check out or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll reply with the code to shop online! Spread the word to the teachers you know and love, and let them know they get a discount at our sustainable shop for kids and adults.
Wishing you all ease and comfort in the transition that is the back to school season.