Back to School is cool except for all of the wasteful, tasteless, toxic stuff that must be purchased for the school year. Avoid the pitfall of products-plus -- purchases that function the way they were intended but happen to have additives such as endocrine disruptors, to quote William McDonough. Go PVC-free. Most insulated lunch boxes stink, but Mimi the Sardine (below) puts a fresh spin on brown-bagging it. The colorful cotton, kid-pleasing prints are non-toxic and Oeko-Tex certified. They never utilize chlorine and only use water soluble dyes. They also happen to be extremely durable, water-resistant, and easy to clean (my son is embarking upon his third year with the same one).
Say no to juice boxes and plastic water bottles -- I fill small glass containers by Frigoverre with tasty treats that are high in protein and vitamins, low in fat, and free of pesticides. You can also put your drinks in SIGG-coated aluminum containers (see below).
Once you're done with the lunchbox, you'll need a backpack to hold books and binders, unless your kid is over 6 -- in that case you will need a golf cart.
Set an example so your children will re-think the way we all think about design. Athletic-looking backpacks like those by Transcesion, Misterio, and LA Originals are made from 98% recycled material. You can find them on Earthpak"s website -- it also tells you how many PET plastic bottles went into making each sack. I'll drink to that.
There is also the HBP4 Organic Hemp Backpack, made in Romania from certified organic hemp that is processed without chemicals or pesticides of any kind.
Reclaimed trucking tarp makes a super strong and sort of euro-looking slackpack.