By: Lucie Mink
Back to school season is here again! As the temperature drops and the leaves begin to change colour, we are once again reminded by brands and influencers alike of all the shiny, new back-to-school “essential” items we NEED. While our lifestyles, budgets and tastes may change year to year, repurchasing all of our essentials annually can be taxing on our wallets and the environment. As a recent university grad and self-proclaimed “back to school shopping expert”, I’ve selected some sustainable back to school staples from my favourite brands to last you well past your school years. Whether you’re enduring your final years of high school, pursuing your bachelor’s degree or continuing your education, these 5 eco-conscious items will carry you from one stage of life to the next, without the need for repurchasing.
1. Back to basics: Kotn
School-day mornings can be rough. Whether you’re waking up for class at 7am or 2pm, putting an outfit together last minute after a long night of studying (or partying) can be frustrating and time consuming. My long-standing, foolproof “go with basics” strategy is arguably more applicable to busy and stressed-out students than anyone else. Based in Toronto and ethically and sustainably manufactured in Egypt, Kotn delivers an assortment of high quality 100% Egyptian cotton basics from perfectly cut tee shirts to soft as a bunny hoodies and sweats. Not only will you look like the coolest girl in class, (even in sweatpants!) but these pieces will last you well beyond your days in the lecture hall. Check out one of their brick and mortar locations in Toronto or Vancouver or head to kotn.com to shop online.
2. Between the sheets: Maison Tess
I am a firm believer in the power of a good night’s sleep, which is why I am eager and willing to try out anything that promises to give me the leg up on achieving 8 hours a night. One overlooked part of getting a restful slumber is the quality and comfort of your bedsheets. Montreal-based linens company Maison Tess was founded on the principle that comfort need not be sacrificed for style. Their gorgeous sheets and bedspreads are made ethically by a fourth generation family-owned manufacturer in Portugal and sourced from ultra high-quality materials like cotton and French flax. I’m obsessed with the super-soft Coco Linen line and the totally to die for trendy new colours— Amber, Petroleum Blue and Terrarosa. All Maison Tess sheets are also OEKO TEX Certified, meaning they are free of harmful chemicals and materials. If you’re looking for the perfect way to spice up a boring dorm room or give your apartment a facelift, Maison Tess has you (and your duvet) covered.
3. Upgrade your hydration: LARQ
Water bottles? For back to school? Groundbreaking. But what if we told you that your water bottle, like your laptop, phone and watch, could also be digitally upgraded to enhance your daily hydration? Enter LARQ, a purifying water bottle that uses LED light to zap up to 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of viruses. That means less sick days and missed track practices, and more healthy, enjoyable and fulfilling school days. The reusable LARQ bottle also helps keep plastic water bottles out of oceans and landfills and is so high-tech, sleek and chic, you wont need (or want) to replace it annually.
4. Keep Calm & Carry On: Lululemon
What would a back to school essentials list be without mention of a backpack? A good, high quality backpack is paramount for students, young professionals and active souls alike – but how many times do we have to repurchase when a zipper breaks or a strap finally gives out? My favourite all-day bag for lugging around my entire life’s contents are without a doubt the functional yet fashionable nap-sacks from Lululemon. The City Adventurer Backpack boasts enough space for textbooks, lunch containers and gym clothes, and also features a sleek and discreet laptop sleeve. A one time purchase of one of these stellar and sturdy bags will take you way beyond your student years and into your adult life. Did I mention it comes in 6 ultra-trendy colours?
5. Joe-on-the-go: Stojo
I don’t know about anyone else, but I started drinking coffee at the ripe age of 15 right before heading into the 10th grade. Since this time, I have consumed an average of 3 cups per day, stained and ruined countless white blouses, and thrown out an embarrassingly high number of single-use coffee cups. While I love the glamourized image of myself stumbling into class 15 minutes late holding an ENORMOUS Starbucks coffee cup looking frazzled yet chic, I now understand how much of an impact my caffeine addiction really has on the environment. This year, I am vowing to cut back on my coffee-cup consumption by using one of these amazing Stojo “Pocket Cup” travel mugs which not only reduce waste, but are leak-proof and collapsible. That means no more coffee puddles at the bottom of my bag or excessive and unnecessary landfill – and they’re cute as heck!