Cluey-Approved Brands for Back-to-School Essentials

By Maryclaire Manard

Back to school season is in full swing, and according to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend over $41 BILLION on back-to-school shopping this year. To put that number into perspective, $41 billion could buy a McDonald’s combo meal for every person on Earth. Or put another way, you could use $41b to buy every single ticket to the Super Bowl for the next 117 years. Could you imagine the impact if everyone diverted just a fraction of their back-to-school spending to be on brands that better align with their personal values? 

Whether it’s eco-conscious brands making low-waste or circular products, brands that are independent or minority-owned and give back to their communities, brands that hold the highest standards for ingredient transparency and safety, or brands that are leading the way on worker respect, equity, and benefits. Whatever your values are, Cluey’s got your back with our list of back-to-school finds from top-rated brands on Cluey for their impacts on people and the planet.

Categories for our Top Picks:

  • Gear, Classroom, and Office Supplies
  • Outdoor/Playground Essentials
  • Apparel
  • Lunch Storage & Kid-Friendly Snacks
  • Enrichment Activities & Kits

Top Picks for Gear, Classroom and Office Supplies

Brand: Wisdom Supply
Women-owned, zero-waste school supplies founded by moms who were fed up with the amount of plastic and waste on school supply lists
Items: Planners, zero waste binders, pencils, colored pencils, downloadable pdf planners
Price Range: $5-$50

Brand: Nimble
Chargers and accessories made from post-consumer waste recycled plastic for your everyday electronic devices. Every purchase comes with the option to send back used electronics to be recycled for free. Climate neutral, a public benefit corporation, and a member of 1% for the planet.
Items: Portable chargers & combo portable/wall chargers, charging cables, iphone and airpod cases, screen protectors, and more
Price Range: $20-$80

Brand: Cotopaxi
BCorp certified, durable gear brand that makes colorful carrying solutions for all of your everyday needs.
Items: small packs for writing utensils, laptop cases, and backpacks for kids and adults
Price Range: $17-$200

Top Picks for Outdoor & Playground Essentials

Brand: Welly

A BCorp based in Minneapolis, Welly sells bandages, first aid, and OTC essentials in fun and memorable patterns. In addition to first aid, Welly also sells skin and acne care.
Items: Bravery badges that come in fun patterns and reusable, collectible tins with enough bandages for the whole family. Perfect for patching up on the playground.
Prices Start At: $4

Brand: Badger

Badger is a women & family-owned and operated business co-led by Co-CEO Sisters, located in the woods of New Hampshire that creates organic body care. As a certified B Corp, Badger has also committed to be carbon neutral by 2030. Other certifications include: USDA Organic, NSF: Personal Care Products Containing Organic Ingredients, Fair Trade Certified Ingredients, Protect Land + Sea certified via Haereticus Environmental Laboratory. Badger is a strong advocate for legislation for family-friendly benefits, fair pay, and social justice, and their co-CEO Rebecca Hamilton recently testified to the US Congress in support of paid family leave.
Items: Anti-bug balm that can fit perfectly in a backpack for after school play and sports practice that goes into the evening hours to keep the bugs at bay.
Prices Start At: $5.99

Brand: Eco Lips
A natural body care company selling lip care products, bug repellant, and other body care essentials. USDA certified, Fair Trade Certified, Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free certified, non-GMO project verified, vegan, made in the US, and all offset with renewable energy.
Items: Lip balm packs that come in “plant pods,” a plant-based 100% plastic free lip balm tube (made from reclaimed farm byproducts and not including any polymers or plastic elements) that functions just as a plastic tube would.
Prices Start At: $4

Brand: Green Goo
A women-owned, family-operated Certified B Corporation, Green Goo was founded in 2008 as an all-natural first aid and bodycare company that uses 100% natural and plant ingredients in their products. 
Items: Children’s first aid salve that can help with everything from cuts, scrapes, to even chickenpox spots
Prices Start At: $7.99

Brand: Babo Botanicals
In addition to the brand being both B-Corp certified and Leaping Bunny certified, many of Babo’s sunscreen products are also reef safe (Hawaii compliant), ensuring minimal impact when you’re having fun in the sun.
Items: Sensitive Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF50
Price: $12.50

Top Picks for Apparel

Brand: ManyMoons
A children’s online circular clothing retailer selling new (ethically produced using regenerative and natural materials), used, and rentable styles.
Items: Buy items new, pre-loved or in rentable styles that you keep for two months and send back, capsules also available that are curated for you and your child by a personal stylist to help you do more with less
Price Range: $18-$112

Brand: Merry Go Rounds
A toddler and kids consignment shop on a mission to make resale the norm for kids’ items – Shipping nationally and offering local pick up in Boston. A certified BCorp, and a member of the National Association of Resale Professionals.
Items: Quality, second-hand kids’ clothes, shoes, toys, books, and accessories from age zero to size 14
Price Range: $5-$30

Brand: Cariuma
For every pair of sneakers sold, Cariuma plants two tress in the rainforests in Brazil to help with reforestation efforts. They are B Corp Certified, they use organic cotton in their products as well as some reused material from its own production, and their tanneries for leather are audited. Their supply train is mostly traced and the factory for their final stage of production is certified by a third party for labor ethics (all of which surpasses their status quo peers)
Items: Sneakers
Prices Start At: $55

Top Picks for Lunch Storage & Kid-Friendly Snacks

Brand: ECOLunchbox
a woman-owned B Corp, and a California Green Certified Business selling food storage solutions with the goal of eliminating plastic waste. Their products include plastic-free containers and lunchboxes made out of stainless steel and silicone. 

Items: Stackable leak proof bento style lunchboxes
Price Range: $25-$50

Brand: Klean Kanteen

A reusable drinkware brand that is family & employee owned, B corp certified, Climate neutral certified, and a 1% for the planet member. Currently, they’re on track to get 95% of their product offerings made from 90% post-consumer recycled steel. Dozens of product sizes, functions, and colors. Cost comparable (actually a tad less expensive) than other popular brands (rhymes with smydrosmlask). Superb function for temperature control (20 hrs for hot, and 50 hours for iced). Sells other reusable goodies like lunchboxes. BPA-free and stainless steel.
Items: Water bottles, tumblers, kids cups, and mugs
Price Range: $15-$43

Brand: ChicoBag
A Bcorp, Climate Neutral Certified brand, and 1% for the planet member – ChicoBag is on a mission to encourage consumers to exchange single-use bags, utensils, and containers for high quality, long-lasting reusable products.

Items: Machine washable snack bags capable of replacing 1,825 single use bags
Price Range: $15.99-$19.99

Brand: Lunchskins
Women-owned, bcorp making disposable and reusable food storage bags that are a great alternative to single-use plastic bags. For their disposable bags, they use BPI-Certified Compostable from 100% FSC-Certified Kraft paper. For their reusable bags, they use a quick drying fabric that is coated with a food-safe polyurethane liner (polyurethane is derived from polymers, so this portion is plastic-based). This brand is found at most major retailers including Target, HEB, Walmart, Whole Foods, Kroger, and more.
Items: Velcro, dishwasher safe, reusable sandwich and snack bags.
Price: $3-$49

Brand: Partake
A Black and Women-owned snack foods brand that is also BCorp certified, Partake foods offers cookies that are certified gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and are free of the top 9 allergens (wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish, sesame and shellfish). This brand also advocates for families fighting food insecurity that are at highest risk for developing food allergies as well as gives back through mentorship to an HBCU-focused fellowship program.
Items: Multiple flavors of cookies, graham crackers, and breakfast mixes for things like pancakes and waffles
Prices Start at: $5

Brand: MadeGood
A snack brand for kids free of the most common allergens, Madegood is BCorp certified and has verified through their TRUE Zero Waste certification that 90% of their waste is being reused, recycled, composted, and recovered for use in nature or the economy.
Items: Cookies, granola bars, Air-puffed crackers, and more
Prices Start at: $4

Brand: Peaceful Fruits
Intended to provide a real fruit, vegan, non-gmo, gluten-free, no added sugar or sweetener alternative to popular candy items, Peaceful Fruits is a BCorp certified brand hoping to make an impact on childhood nutrition. Additionally, as part of their impact, they employ individuals with developmental disabilities to help make their delicious 100% fruit snacks.

Items: Fruit stickers, Fruit tape, and more
Price Starts at: $17 for multi-packs

Brand: Homefree
This Women-owned and BCorp certified brand offers variety packs of mini cookies that are vegan, non-gmo, Kosher, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and free from the top 14 food allergens that can be enjoyed by both parents and kids.
Items: mini cookies
Prices Start at: $4

Brand: Dang
Dang foods is an AAPI-owned, family run, BCorp certified brand selling health-forward plant-based snacks sourced from coconuts grown on family farms in Thailand. Their products are non-GMO and gluten-free, and can be found at most major retailers including Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, Target, Sprouts, Whole Foods

Items: Coconut chips, rice chips, dang bars
Prices Start at: $3

Brand: Once Upon a Farm
This BCorp certified brand makes organic, cold-pressed blends for babies to big kids. This is the first baby and kid food brand to be ‘clean label’ certified pesticide free, and the first refrigerated baby food brand to be approved by the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC). Additionally, they partner with Save the Children to hit their goal of donating 1 million meals to children in need by the end of 2024.

Items: Organic, cold-pressed blends
Prices Start at: $90/pack or $3.79/count

Brand: Stonyfield Organics
A 100% USDA Organic dairy brand that is BCorp certified and sources milk only from pasture raised cows. Products are non-GMO project verified, Kosher, and gluten-free. They’re also on a mission to remove the use of pesticides from kids playing fields by supporting with education, advocacy, and resources, bringing the organic movement to more places than just where our food is grown.

Items: Organic Lowfat Yogurt Pouches
Prices Start at: $1.72/pouch

Top Picks for Enrichment Activities & Kits

A B Corp Certified clean energy company, based in Brooklyn, New York, that sells sustainable light and energy products including solar string lights, lanterns, power banks and more. MPOWERD works with over 700 NGOs and non-profits to provide clean energy to communities who need it most.
Items: Build your own, solar light STEM kit
Price: $39.95

Brand: Back to the Roots
A company selling gardening essentials and at-home grow kits for adults and kids, on a mission to help families reconnect with growing their own food. Sold at major retailers like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. All products are Organic and made in the U.S.

Items: Water garden & grow kits for kids
Price Range: $12.99-$99.99

Brand: Encantos
A bilingual-forward, culture-forward kids’ learning BCorp certified brand making books, games, and apps designed to help kids in their early education and learning journeys

Items: Bilingual bundle
Price Range: Free (youtube) – $50

Brand: Olli Ella
An ethical play and nursery brand for kids and moms, Ollie Ella was founded in Australia by two sisters who wanted to make mindfully crafted products that were beautiful with minimal impact to the planet.
Items: Playpa Paper for kids to color and reuse for gift wrapping and more
Price Range: $18

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