Back-to-school shopping can feel so repetitive. Every year you're buying new notebooks, new clothes, new backpacks, new lunchboxes – the list goes on and on! Though some of these can't be helped – your kids can't re-use note-filled paper or wear too-small clothes – there are other items that should last more than a year. Finding < a href="/green-energy/back-to-school-products/">school supplies that last is not only good for the environment, it's good for your wallet and your shopping sanity!

We've put together some tips for finding supplies that will endure the wear and tear our kids put on them, and even found several items with a lifetime guarantee.


Look for: Thick material, tight stitching, a guarantee, a neutral design.

A backpack should be able to last for several years – in fact, your child should outgrow it before it needs to be replaced. Pull on the seams and pockets to test strength. Make sure the material is thick enough that pencils won't poke holes through it. Check for pockets on the inside to keep things organized. Several manufacturers offer a limited or lifetime guarantee on their backpacks, including easy-to-find brands Jansport, North Face and L.L. Bean.

You also need to make sure the design or color is one your child will enjoy for several years. For some kids unicorns are forever, but for others they're a passing fancy. Try getting a backpack in a solid color and decorate it with pins, patches or keyrings. Also consider getting a pencil bag to contain sharp or possible leaking items, such as protractors and markers.

Consider: L.L. Bean's Deluxe Plus Book Pack comes in a variety of solid colors. Bonus: The site offers free shipping every day.

Lunch boxes

Look for: Insulation to keep an ice pack cold all morning, easy-to-clean liner, strong handle.

The biggest obstacle to long-lasting lunch boxes is keeping them clean enough so they don't develop funky smells. This is hard when kids don't always throw away trash or close lids tightly. Look for an insulated liner that's easy to swipe out with a sponge or cloth. Lunch boxes with zippers are a sturdy choice. Consider an outside pocket for silverware, so forks don't punch through the lining. Also, make sure it's big enough to hold multiple containers, as kids' lunch tastes change.

Consider: Land's End's ClassMate EZ Wipe Lunch Box has a seamless interior for easy cleaning, plus inside and outside pockets. It also has a guarantee to last.


Look for: Thick material, strong seams.

Whether your child needs a big five-subject organizer or individual folders, look for a strong or thick material with reinforced seams that will hold up with repeated opening and closing. Mead's Five Star® products come with a year guarantee.

Consider: Case-it's Mighty Zip Tab 3-inch Zipper Binder is made from sturdy mesh.

Pencils and erasers

Look for: Quality materials that won't crumble when used.

You can find long-lasting quality even in these inexpensive, disposable items. Pencils made from cedar usually last longer than pencils made from other woods. They don't splinter as easily when sharpened and they write smoothly. Erasers need to quickly get rid of pencil markings without tearing the paper or leaving behind a mess.

Consider: Ticonderoga pencils made from reforested cedar and Pentel Hi-polymer erasers get high marks from teacher and students alike.

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