Cool for School
10 Great Back-to-School Finds
Lunch bag — check! Wardrobe — check! Desk supplies — check! The first day of school is drawing near, and with it comes shopping for essentials. With the help of the following list, you’ll have everything you need in no time, supporting local, independent companies while you’re at it. Back-to-school shopping — check!
1. My Keepsake Portfolio
As organized as you are at the start of the school year, the assignments, report cards, and artwork inevitably pile up in every room of the house by the end of September. Exclusively sold at Lakeshore Learning, My Keepsake Portfolio puts the brakes on clutter and gives the kids a colorful, easy-to-use system with expandable pockets to keep their oversized artwork, essays and projects filed neatly away. Perfect for pre-school aged kids.
Cost: $19.95, Lakeshore Learning Outlet, 1144 Montague Ave., San Leandro, www.lakeshorelearning.com
2. The Lunch Bug
Locally based in Corte Madera, Mimi the Sardine makes a lunch bag designed with coated organic cotton that you can wipe clean. It’s eco-friendly, nontoxic and comes in fun patterns like Jungle, Stripes, Dots and Ocean. The interior lining features a complementary pattern. The Lunch Bug seals tight with a zipper and can also be machine-washed. If this sounds good, too, to mom or your high-schooler, Mimi the Sardine also makes a Lunch Clutch.
Cost: $25.95, available at various retailers, www.mimithesardine.com
3. Local Lunch Boxes
Remember the Incredible Hulk or Smurfs lunchbox you owned as a kid? Today’s lunch boxes have come a long way since. PlanetBox, made by a Bay Area couple and headquartered in San Rafael, is nontoxic, nonleaching and recyclable. But the best part is all the little compartments — perfect for separately storing healthy portions the kids will actually eat. We also recommend the Lafayette-based product, ECOLunchbox Kit, which comes with napkins, placemats, machine-washable lunchbag and spork; and the BPA- and phthalate free Kids Konserve lunch kits, founded by a Bay Area based mom and her partner.
Cost: PlanetBox, $39.95–$59.95, www.planetbox.com; ECOLunchbox Kit, $50, www.ecolunchboxes.com; Kids Konserve, $35–$45, www.kidskonserve.com
4. Artisan Shoes by Livie & Luca
If there’s one item in your wardrobe that deserves high quality, it’s shoes. The same is true for your little ones’. Albany-based Livie & Luca was started by three Bay Area moms who believe kids should stomp the playgrounds in comfort as well as style. Their hand-made eco-friendly shoes are designed for babies, boys, girls and women.
Cost: Prices vary, available at various retailers, www.livieandluca.com
5. Goorin Brothers Hat
As babies, they wore hats for protection from the sun. As they’ve gotten older, hats are more of a fashion statement than anything, completing any ensemble, whether your kid’s into hip-hop, skating or baseball. Goorin Brothers is a San Francisco-based company with a Sand Cassel Kids collection, featuring everything from baseball caps to cloche hats to cadet caps made especially for the younger set.
Cost: Prices vary, 2926 College Ave., Berkeley, www.goorin.com
6. Zoo Packs
These adorable Skip Hop backpacks are fashioned after animals, including dinosaurs, dogs, frogs, owls and monkeys. A good size for elementary-school kids, and matching lunch bags are an option. The backpacks come with a pocket for the water bottle, padded straps and a write-on nametag inside and are BPA and phthalate-free.
Cost: $20, available at various local retailers, www.skiphop.com
7. Poketo Character Pens
Getting in character seems to be the theme these days. Cloud, owl, ghost, grizzly, hippie and vampire pens are whimsical and fun, the type of thing kids from elementary to high school love to pull from the pencil case. Made by an independent company in southern California, each pen is inscribed with a message, like “Forest,” “Always Smile” or “I Love You.”
Cost: $5 (at Alameda-based Modern Mouse, www.modernmousegifts.com), www.poketo.com
8. Gimmie Dat Gear
In this Los Gatos–based collection, the pants, tees, leggings and other clothing for boys and girls 2 to 14 years is meant to encourage self-expression and character — in other words — an attitude. That’s a positive thing — every U.S.-made item has its own special slogan about can-do qualities like courage, presence and conscience.
Prices vary, available at various retailers, www.gimmiedatgear.com
It’s time to fill the supply bin and the pencil case. Always on the supply list, crayons, paints, art pads and glue are made nontoxic by the family company, eco-kids. The crayons feature a unique shape meant for gripping and are handmade with fruit, plant and vegetable extracts.
$9.99, available at various retailers, www.ecokidsusa.com
10. Licenders Shampoo
It’s not often talked about, but 12 million kids between the ages of 3 and 11 of every income level are affected by it per year in the United States — lice. Lice spreads through the physical contact between kids at school, and once it’s detected, too many kids are kept from class, missing valuable learning time. Envisioned by an East Coast parent, Licenders is all-natural and safe to use, killing lice with enzymes that they can’t grow immune to.
Cost: $28, www.licenders.com