Sustainable Living Organisation and Productivity

10 Affordable and Sustainable Stationery Picks for the New School Year

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Sustainable food and fashion are hot topics in today’s world, but stationery is an area in which you wouldn’t necessarily think about sustainability. However, did you know that over 1.6 billion pens are thrown away every year? Most of these pens are made of plastic and are not easy to recycle, so they end up polluting the planet or sitting in landfills. And that’s just pens – not to mention all the other types of stationery products!

In light of this, it makes a lot of sense to pick sustainable stationery options. In this post I will be sharing 10 stationery picks that I have personally used. All of these items are sustainable in some way, whether it’s the material they are made of, or how they can be reused or recycled.

A flatlay of sustainable stationery including washi tape, pencil extenders, highlighters and a notebook.

Another great thing about sustainable stationery is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. Most of these items are affordable, and with the more expensive items, you will get your money’s worth over time because they are refillable or reusable in some way.

Whether you are starting a new year in school or University, or you just need some new stationery supplies, this post is for you! I hope you enjoy discovering these affordable and sustainable stationery picks.

The Best Eco-Friendly Stationery in 2021

10 Affordable and Sustainable Stationery Picks for the New School Year

1. Waterman Hemisphere Fountain Pen

Fountain pens are a great sustainable stationery option because you can refill them again and again so they never get thrown away. I bought this Waterman fountain pen for myself almost 4 years ago and it is still going strong. I bought a converter that allows me to refill the pen with bottled ink instead of plastic ink cartridges. The ink comes in glass bottles and they last for years. I bought two bottles of ink with the pen, one black and one blue. They are still both half full despite my regular use of the pen.

A silver Waterman Hemisphere fountain pen with gold edging

Although this pen is expensive upfront, it’s a good investment because it will last pretty much forever. You’ll never need to buy a pen again!

Tip: When I first got this pen, it took a few weeks before it would write smoothly. But after the initial ‘wearing in’ period, it has written flawlessly ever since. So if it doesn’t write smoothly at first, be patient and give it a chance.

2. Staedtler Highlighter – Textsurfer Classic

Last year, I bought a pack of these highlighters from my local supermarket. When I got them home and read the packet, I was delighted to find that they are refillable! Instead of throwing your highlighter away when it runs out, get the Staedtler refill station that contains enough ink for 15-20 refills. To be honest, you would have to do a lot of highlighting to ever get through that many refills, so you’ll probably never have to buy another highlighter or refill station again!

4 Staedtler Textsurfer classic highlighters in fluorescent colours

I bought a pack of 4 highlighters approximately 1 year ago and have done a moderate amount of highlighting in that time. They are yet to run out so I haven’t needed to purchase a refill station. When they run out I will definitely go for that option rather than buying new highlighters.

3. Sprout – Plantable Pencils

I was fortunate enough to receive a pack of these plantable pencils for my birthday this year. The pencils are sustainably packaged and made with eco-friendly wood. Each pencil contains seeds in a biodegradable capsule, so you can plant your pencil and watch the seeds grow.

5 pencils with inspiring quotes on, with their 'plant your pencil' packaging.
5 plantable pencils which have capsules on the ends containing seeds. They have quotes on them.
A pencil planted at 45 degrees in a pot of soil. Chia seedlings are growing from the capsule at the end of the pencil.
These are Chia seedlings that grew out of one of my pencils!

The pencils themselves are high quality and write well, and it’s great to know that you are doing your bit for the environment by choosing sustainably produced pencils, as well as planting seeds to help the bees! These pencils also make a great sustainable gift.

Tip: The instructions suggest planting the pencils when they get too short to use. However, they also say to plant within 1 year. Let’s be realistic – unless you are an art student, you are unlikely to get 5 pencils to the stage of being too short to use within one year! I would recommend doing what I did which is planting the pencils straight away, then cleaning off the ends and using the pencils after.

4. Wooden Tape Dispenser

I somehow managed to lose my plastic sellotape dispenser several years ago, so took the opportunity to replace it with a more sustainable option. This wooden tape dispenser is sturdy and high-quality. It has a metal blade that stays sharp for far longer than plastic ones.

A wooden tape dispenser with sellotape in
A wooden tape dispenser with sellotape in

You can easily take the sellotape out and use the dispenser for different tapes such as washi tape, so you will only ever need one tape dispenser.

Tip: It is always more sustainable to use what you already have, instead of buying a new ‘sustainable’ product. So, if you already have a plastic tape dispenser, I recommend that you continue to use it until it breaks or gets lost, instead of immediately replacing it with a wooden one.

This is not the exact tape dispenser that I have because I bought mine from TK Maxx, but this one looks very similar:

5. Washi Tape

Washi tape is a type of paper sticky tape that originated in Japan. It is often used in crafts, but it can also replace many of the everyday functions of sellotape. It is made of paper rather than plastic which makes it more sustainable than sellotape. It’s cheap and comes in a wide variety of fun colours and patterns.

6 rolls of washi tape in various sizes, colours and patterns.

For some inspiration on how to use washi tape, check out this post: 9 Creative and Functional Uses for Washi Tape

6. Recycled Paper Notebooks and Planners

I don’t know about you, but I get through quite a few notebooks and planners in my daily life. If you are still in school or University, you will certainly need paper of some kind. One way to be more sustainable is to choose recycled or FSC-certified paper.

A notebook made of recycled board and bound with string. It features a bee and the words 'bee kind'.
A close-up of the back of a 'bee kind' notebook made of 100% recycled paper and board.

Last Christmas, I was gifted this beautiful ‘Bee Kind’ notebook from WHSmith. It is made from 100% recycled paper and board so it is a great sustainable choice.

7. Metal Pencil Extenders

When I discovered that these pencil extenders existed, I could not resist buying some! I had a few old pencils that were getting too short to comfortably use, but I didn’t want to waste them. These pencil extenders are the perfect solution for getting the most out of your too-short pencils. They are easy to fasten to your pencils, and they fit many thicknesses.

Six colourful pencil extenders with short pencils in them.
You can’t tell how short the pencils are in this photo, but some of them don’t even go down to the end of the silver part!

These pencil extenders are really comfortable to use and they truly allow you to use your pencils right to the very end. I also love that they are made of metal rather than plastic. Whoever invented these is a genius!

8. Metal Hole Punch

If you need to buy a new hole punch, I recommend opting for a metal one. As well as being more sustainable, they tend to be more sturdy than their plastic counterparts so they are less likely to break.

An old, red, metal hole punch

As you can see, my metal hole punch is really old and looks a bit shabby. However, it still functions perfectly! Opting for sturdy stationery that stands the test of time will save you money long-term as well as being better for the environment.

Tip: Similarly, you can choose metal staplers, rulers and pencil sharpeners in place of plastic. I haven’t specifically featured these because I don’t own them myself. I plan to use my plastic ones until they are no longer functional and replace them with metal ones in the future.

Related post: 40+ Simple Ways To Reduce Your Plastic Use

9. Bic 4 Colours Original Retractable Ballpoint Pen

Even though I recommended a fountain pen earlier in this post, I realise that there are some occasions that require a ballpoint pen. For example, for writing on shiny surfaces, or in school exams. Although the BIC pen is made of plastic and is not refillable, it does contain 4 colours so it is effectively 4 pens in one. It will last 4 times as long as an ordinary ballpoint pen and you will only be buying 1 pen instead of 4!

A BIC 4 colour original retractable ballpoint pen with an owl charm attached to the end.

I received my BIC 4 Colours pen as a Christmas present last year and it has come in very handy when I need a ballpoint pen. These pens are also easy to personalise. As you can see, I have attached a cute owl charm to the ring on the end.

10. Buy Second-Hand Stationery!

My final affordable and sustainable stationery pick is not a specific item, but a recommendation to buy your stationery second-hand! If you visit a charity shop you can often find stationery, especially notebooks, folders, box files and pencil cases at a bargain price. If you are looking for specific items, try searching on eBay to find your ideal stationery second-hand and know that you are helping the planet by not buying new.

A flatlay of stationery including pencil extenders, washi tape, highlighters, pencils and a wooden tape dispenser.

What are your top sustainable stationery picks?

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and that it’s made you more aware of how you can help the environment through your stationery choices, whilst still maintaining your budget. Are you starting a new school year, and will you be buying any new stationery for it? What are your favourite stationery items or brands? Have you ever bought sustainable stationery? Let me know in the comments below!

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10 Affordable and Sustainable Stationery Picks For The New School Year


  1. I’ve never seen the pencil extenders before but the concept is SO smart. How often do we end up throwing out a pencil early because we can’t hold it comfortably anymore when it still has life in it! Especially if we find one that writes the way we like… I am going to have to look at grabbing myself a set of those!!

    1. Sophie says:

      They are such a smart idea, aren’t they! I love mine!

  2. I love all of your picks. I am a stationary addict, even in my home office, I love getting bits to make working a bit more fun

    1. Sophie says:

      Stationery is so much fun isn’t it! It’s always tempting to buy lots of new stationery bits x

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