We've reviewed so many school supply lists over the years that we now think of them as Rubik's cubes - countless combinations of essentially all the same stuff - most of it poorly designed junk - stuff we call "pre-landfill".
One day we hope to facilitate getting simple supplies like glue, scissors, and rulers back as stocked classroom supplies, rather than something students are asked to purchase over and over - then tote around in their backpacks the entire school year, before chucking most of it on the last day of school.
If you have the knack/tolerance/interest in thrifting, treasures abound and my personal experience is that it can turn into a fun afternoon poking through second hand stores with your kids - so much better than buying blister-packed plastic products from soulless big box stores.
Round up all prior year's school supplies from around the house - edit, clean, sort, sharpen, and organize. Surprising how little is needed after taking stock of how much we already have.
Layer in quality pieces over time so that you love what you have.
Consider investing a pair of quality scissors to keep at home. I'm partial to a 7" Parveen - they look as beautiful as they work. I'll have mine for the rest of my days, and my kids will have them after that.
For school scissors, I know it's really only garbage, plastic-handled stuff out there, and there honestly isn't one I'd recommend. Just see if you can find something of decent quality, and make a point of keeping and reusing them year after year.
Every year we're asked "What should I do with used crayons?"
a) Sharpen/clean/sort and keep using them until they are little nubs.
The whole concept that just because it is a new school year, all supplies have to be brand new from a big box store is unsustainable. We're far better off teaching young people to value the things we have, care for our belongings, and save hard earned money for products of quality when they are needed.
b) Not a fan of most collection programs, but the Crayon Initiative is an exception.
So annoyed by glue sticks and plastic glue bottles - the permanent waste created so kids can stick pieces of paper to other pieces of paper is next level.
We are still working on our own plastic-free version - we're just not market-ready yet.
This will get me laughed off this page, but a simple jar of flour (rice flour if you're fancy) and some small cups in the classroom should suffice. Add a little bit of water to a little bit of flour and you can do all the things that glue does. Realizing you don't need a plastic tube or plastic bottle to accomplish sticking pieces of paper together would be by far the best thing any student learned in school that day.
On demand paste. Make just what is needed for the task (a jar of wet paste won't keep long as it is natural and will grow moldy).
You can also use wet rice (just another form of rice paste).
Open their minds to not needing disposable plastic junk that is polluting the air, oceans, fresh water, soil, rain and our bodies - truly something every student needs to know.
There are many recipes online for making smooth/fancy homemade glues of varying strength, but the flour and water or wet rice does the trick for simple class purposes.
(more to come)