The hazy, lazy days of summer are quickly coming to a close. The school supply lists are hitting your inbox. It is coming…… Back to school!
Whether you are dying to get your kids back on a schedule or dreading the school pick-up line, the time has come to get prepped for the big first day back (or very first day!).
Here are some great resources for alternative back to school shopping for backpacks, lunchboxes and apparel that give back by supporting communities locally and abroad, employing artisans at sustainable wages and supporting education for children around the world:
Backpacks and Lunchboxes:
We purchased the Recess Bag for our kids this year, and we could not be happier. They are the perfect size for preschool and early elementary school, and the kids loved picking out their favorite color from the modern palette choices. The backpacks have plenty of pockets inside and out including two side pockets for water bottle holders on the outside. They are also roomy enough to fit standard size folders, notebooks and lunch boxes. Each bag is made of high-quality, durable material with comfortable padded, adjustable straps. We love the little extras like an opening for headphone cords, plastic slots for name badges and padded pockets for tablets and laptops. All backpacks also come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
Our kids were thrilled when they arrived and like to share about the special buy 1/ give 2 element of the company. There are several great options for older kids and adults to choose from as well. B-wap sells products in retail locations throughout the US in addition to online. Prices range from $42 for child-sized backpacks to $72 for the Doc, a large hiking style option.
Another great company with a Buy One, Give One program for backpacks and lunch boxes. For every product purchased, a matching product is filled and donated with needed items including school supplies, food, clothing and more. Sydney-Paige is a women-owned organization whose mission is to help the “less fortunate while breaking the cycle of poverty through education.”
Sydney Paige offers a great selection of backpacks in all sizes, from toddler to adult. With many design options ranging from fun prints to classic, neutral basics, each member of the family is sure to find something that fits their style. Backpacks can be further personalized with name or monogram embroidery. Each product is made of high-quality material, and includes many other great feature options such as side water bottle holders, padded laptop pockets and straps, zippered external pockets and reflective piping for safety.
Several backpack styles also offer the option of adding on matching lunch boxes, nap blankets, and pencil cases as well for an affordable add-on charge. In addition to the full line of back to school offerings on their own site, Sydney Paige also sells a limited selection of products on Amazon, currently with a buy one, get one 20% off promotion.
Prices range from $40 for the toddler sized backpacks to $95 for their limited-edition ruck-sack benefitting Matthew and Camila McConaughey’s j.k. livin’ (Just Keep Livin) non-profit foundation. The Just Keep Livin’ foundation works with inner-city highschools to provide after-school fitness and wellness programs with fantastic results.
State offers high-end, modern styling that set them apart from other back to school options. State’s tagline is Give. Back. Pack. They were founded to help address the needs of children here in America. State not only donates an item filled with supplies with every purchase, but also holds rallies to help motivate and inspire youth.
Toddlers will love the adorable Mini Kane, offered in a variety of bright, bold colors with cute, coordinating snack packs. Little fashionistas will go crazy for the colorful, metallic Kane style and adorable pencil cases. Star Wars fans of all ages will pine over the ridiculously cool limited-edition Collection One featuring Darth Vader, Storm Troopers, C-3PO, and R2-D2 inspired designs.
In addition to the eye-catching styles, all State backpacks are made from durable materials and boast features such as padded laptop pockets, slip pockets on the sides for water bottles, and other special touches like antique metallic zippers. The clean, modern styling is perfect for any teen or college student needing a new backpack. Ladies into a clean, designer look will have plenty of options for State backpacks, totes and gym bags. Guys going for cool and refined will appreciate the classic-yet-modern backpacks and messenger bags suitable for school or work. Prices range from $48 for the mini Apollo backpack to $445 for the Kent, a luxe, black leather option.
Many people are aware that Toms donates a pair to a person in need with each shoe purchase. Beyond having cute coordinating options for the whole family, they do tend to feature special back to school styles such as this adorable Letters and Numbers style and this cool Periodic Table shoe for Fall 2017. Toms has expanded beyond the One for One shoe program to offer other incredible means of support for the less fortunate including access to eye care and clean water with other lines of product offerings. Purchases of Toms Local Backpack provide funding for programs that prevent and respond to bullying, including training for school communities and crisis counselors. This medium size style is available in metallic drizzle gray and tomato, two great colors that would work for middle schoolers and beyond. Purchases of other bag styles for older girls and women include totes, fashion backpacks and pouches provide funding for safe births for women around the world.
For the outdoorsy types or those looking for a more rugged, casual look, check out the lifestyle packs offered by Cotopaxi. Not only do they offer great style choices, but you can feel great about your purchase. Cotopaxi has thought about the impact of every element of their business including using eco-friendly and scrap materials in the construction of their products, insisting on fair-trade labor practices, donating to causes that help build up communities and hosting inspiring adventure Questivals.
The Coban 20L backpack is a great, cleanly designed classic option that is built to last and would work for older teens and adults. We also like several of their messenger-style satchels and laptop sleeves for as great everyday bags men with a relaxed style.
Ethnotek produces globally inspired backpacks and satchels, specializing larger travel and hiking options. The colorful, traditional handmade textiles used in their products sustains employment at livable wages for artisans in Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia and Vietnam. In addition, the Raja 30 Liter and 46 Liter backpacks contains a front section called a Thread that is interchangeable with new designs so you can update your look when the mood strikes. Prices range from $70 for the Cyclo travel sling to $220 for the large Raja 46 Liter hiking and travel backpack.
Everyday bags and backpacks for girls and women in prints that pop. Hiptipico employs artisans in Guatemala to produce their stunning handmade Mayan textiles that preserve culture, promote local empowerment and reduce poverty. Our favorites include the bold and beautiful Flora backpack ($128) that repurposes discarded scrap textiles and the Remolacha backpack ($98) featuring a classic rainbow stripe woven design.
A go to for ethically-sourced products with clean design, Everlane produces a great selection of backpacks for teens and adults in with minimalist designs and a variety of color options. They utilize a direct producer to customer online sales approach to cut out the retailer middleman, reducing cost and increasing efficiency in the process. My husband uses the Commuter backpack ($68) daily for a modern work bag option. It features a durable waterproof fabric, two side slip pockets for water bottles and multiple interior and exterior pockets to keep you organized. The smaller Street Nylon Zip Backpack ($38) is a great classic option as well that would even work for school age children. Everlane also showcases their products with multiple clear pictures and videos modeling each item. In addition, they have great customer service and keep you updated with your order and delivery status via text.
Sevenly is a pioneer in the social good marketplace that was founded to “lead a generation toward generosity” through selling “advocacy art, apparel and accessories.” For every product purchased, $7 is given to the featured charity of the week. Sevenly takes pride in providing fair-trade, ethically sourced products and are committed to uplifting the community and giving back through as many components of its business as possible. Sevenly curated a Back to School kids collection for Fall 2017 that provides two books to kids in need through the First Book organization. Kids will love the cool, unique and clever t-shirt designs. The Dream in Color tee is perfect for little artistas and the Live Loud tee would be a favorite for boys everywhere. We love the inspirational messages on many of the tees encouraging kindness, bravery and for kids to just be themselves.
Shop or donate secondhand clothing, shoes and accessories at Schoola.com to benefit schools and educational causes throughout the US, including your own local school! They currently offer clothing for babies, kids, teens and women, including maternity. Their selection changes frequently and they often have sales and promotions, so be sure to check their site or like their Facebook page if you want to snag an extra good deal.
They also make it super easy to donate and clear some space in your closets while benefiting a good cause! Just fill out some basic information and you can print a free mailing label and leave the package for your mail carrier or drop off at the post office. They will sort through and prep your clothing for sale and once sold, 40% of proceeds go straight to your chosen school or charity.
A definite win-win!
Soular sets itself apart through its innovative approach of providing a solar powered backpack to children in need in East Africa for each traditional backpack purchased. Solar power not only provides much needed light for children to use in the evenings to complete their school work, but also reduces overall household expenses by reducing dependency on costly and dangerous kerosene use for power. The fun yet classic backpacks ($75) feature special touches including laptop sleeves and leather-pulled gold zippers.