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Waste Reduction

Sustainable Stationery for Eco Scholars & Offices

The least wasteful practice is always using what you already have, so firstly, dig out last year’s stationery and books with blank pages and resurrect what still works for this year’s work.

For those items that have come to their end of life, you can’t recycle them in your curbside bin. Still, you can recycle old stationery through various other avenues like Biome’s recycling program (AU), which accepts pens for recycling, and in a TerraCycle Office Separation Zero Waste Recycle Bin, which can be used to recycle any art supplies and office supplies.

Another option is buying secondhand stationery or school bags from secondhand stores or online avenues. Any tech needed for this year’s learning can be refurbished (better for the planet and at a better price!). You can get secondhand refurbished technology online from Amazon Renewed, Boost Mobile (AU), Back Market US, Decluttr US, Back Market UK, or Music Magpie (UK). We share more about buying and reusing used electronics and places where you can find them here: Where to Buy a Secondhand Phone or Device Online.

When buying new, look for products made from recycled material, plastic-free alternatives, and reusable alternatives to your usual stationery items like these…


Not only plastic-free but lasting way longer than infuriatingly quick-to-run-out plastic highlighters and highlighting without bleeding through to the other side of the paper, highlighter pencils are the way of the future! They are made from wood and clay-based color.

  • Earth Greetings eco highlighter pencil (AU)

Are the pages all full and finished? You don’t throw away these books entirely – replace the pages inside with new pages and reuse the cover repeatedly!

  • The button works notebooks (AU) made from sustainably sourced Australian timber allow the enclosed notebook to be replaced.
  • Vent for Change’s (UK) refillable journal and weekly planner come with a non-dated weekly planner and a lined refill. The old used pages can be slid out and replaced with a number of refill options, including colored paper.

Made from paper rather than plastic, this plastic-free tape can be recycled. All natural washi tape that is made from all biodegradable materials can also be composted. Look for an eco-friendly brand that uses recycled paper and/or natural materials. Steer clear of paper tape that includes synthetic components like foil or glitter.

  • Earth Greetings washi tape (AU)
  • Worthwhile Paper recycled paper washi tape (US)
  • &Keep biodegradable washi tape (UK)
  • Kraft tape / biodegradable brown paper tape (AU here / US here or here / UK here)

Pens can be refilled and reused rather than single use. Replacing the ink or ballpoint pen cartridge saves the whole pen from having to be discarded and replaced. There are many regular pens that can be refilled and pen refills (US). Some fancier, more sustainable refillable pens are:

  • Earth Greetings refillable bamboo ballpoint pen (AU)
  • Lousy Liner (AU) refillable 100% recycled plastic and printer ink liner pens
  • Eco paper FSC timber ballpoint pen (AU) – refill the timber barrel with a standard ballpoint ink when empty
  • Ballpark Seat Pens (US) can be refilled with an internationally available rollerball pen refill and are made from salvaged seats of historic baseball stadiums
  • Agood Company’s Natural Grass Pen has refill cartridges (US)

A stapler that staples without staples! Never run out of staples again! Instead of using staples, which constantly need to be replaced, the stapleless stapler punches a small hole and tab to fix three sheets of paper together. From reviews I’ve read, it seems to work well for a few pages but not for stapling lots of pages together.

  • Staple-Less stapleless stapler (AU)
  • Kokuyo Harinacs press staple-free stapler (AU here / UK here)

For those who still prefer to plan with, note down on, pour their feelings out with, and sketch on pen and paper, you can get planners, notebooks and sketchbooks made from recycled or upcycled materials rather than new resources.

  • Earth Greetings Planners (AU)
  • Decomposition spiral notebooks and bound notebooks (AU)
  • Vent for Change recycled leather refillable weekly planners and journals, and recycled lined notebooks (UK)
  • A Beautiful Story Notebooks (UK) – made using cotton waste from the fashion industry
  • Wisdom Supply Co 2023 Zero-Waste Weekly Planner (US)
  • Upcycled Floppy Disk Notebooks (US)
  • Worthwhile Paper recycled planner, sketchbook, and notepads (US)
  • Agood Company stone paper journals, diaries, and notebooks (US) – made from reused stone and recycled construction debris

Brands are using biodegradable bamboo instead of plastic for these school essentials and office supplies:

  • Bamboo math set (US)
  • Bamboo push pins (US)
  • Bamboo ruler (US)
  • Bamboo stapler (US)
  • Plastic Free Zone’s (UK) bamboo sharpener and ruler

Search for more bamboo stationery worldwide here.


Many pencils have a plastic outer layer. Ones made from recycled newspapers, avoid this and use non-toxic lead instead! Pens can also be made from 100% recycled plastic instead of virgin plastic. And pencils can be plantable, biodegrade, and grow into a plant when placed in soil.

  • Onyx + Green (AU) recycled newspaper colored pencils
  • Lousy Liner (AU) 100% recycled plastic and printer ink liner pens
  • Eco Pen Club (AU) highlighters with a paper pen tube that create 75% less waste and 85% less plastic than a normal highlighter
  • Sprout Plantable Pencils (US) – once they’re too short to use, plant them and they’ll grow into a sunflower, daisy, spruce tree, carnation, or forget me not
  • Ballpark Seat Pens (US) made from salvaged seats of historic baseball stadiums and uses an internationally available rollerball pen refill
  • Agood Company Natural Grass Pen (US) made from natural meadow grass paired with BPA-free plastics
  • Onyx and Green (US) recycled plastic gel pens and mechanical pencils, recycled newspaper pencils, recycled ground coffee beans ballpoint pen, and recycled plastic highlighters
  • Vent for Change (UK) recycled plastic bottle ballpoint pens and recycled CD case pencils


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Jane S. King

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