Sustainable Outfits For Going Back to School - Good On You
06 Aug

Sustainable Outfits For Going Back to School

Okay, I hate to break it to you northern hemisphere friends, but school starts back up SOON! When I was younger, I actually loved this time of year—preparing my bag, my pencils, my books, making sure everything had my name on it, thinking about seeing my friends again and telling them all about my holidays, and most importantly, planning my outfit for my first day back at school. I would try on different outfits and lay them all out on my bed neatly. Ah, the good old days!

We know school might be a bit different now, and depending on where you are in the world, having class might mean turning on Zoom and studying from home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up and wear something nice! Putting some thought into a BTS outfit that makes you feel at ease and confident can provide a nice break and make you feel better about these challenging times.

So, whether you’re a parent planning your kiddo’s outfit or a teenager wanting to impress on your first day of high school, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading to discover our favourite sustainable outfits for going back to school.

Sustainable outfit for preschool

Preschool is such a fun time for children, learning ABCs, 123s, colours, animals, playing with their friends. Which is why it’s important that they wear some comfy and cool, that will allow them to run around freely and enjoy their first experience with school!

preschooler sustainable outfit for going back to school

Little Emperor (2-8 years)

Rated: Great
children wearing whale printed t-shirts by little emperor

Whale Dreaming Organic Cotton T-Shirt – Ships internationally from Australia

Little Emperor creates unique, functional, and hard-wearing clothing for children. Its affordable clothing is made from environmentally friendly organic cotton, with every garment designed in Sydney, Australia . Named in honour of the adorable Emperor Penguin, Little Emperor is a member of 1% for the Planet, meaning 1% of sales are donated to environmental non-profits, helping protect the penguins’ home. We love the fun and unisex Whale Dreaming tee shirt!

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Shop Little Emperor.

Sense Organics

Rated: Great

Comfortable Trousers in Twill – Ships internationally from Germany

Sense Organics is an established German brand that has been dressing kids in its colourful organic cotton range for 18 years. We give it a ‘Great’ rating for its commitment to eco-friendly materials and its treatment of garment workers, including ensuring suppliers pay a living wage. These trousers are great for running around: they are robust and the grey colour means stains are less visible. Winning!

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Shop Sense Organics.

Mini Rodini

Rated: Good

Corduroy Jacket – Ships internationally from Sweden

Mini Rodini offers sustainable baby and kids clothes, accessories, and more. This Swedish brand is certified by Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. Staying with the “Animals” theme, but this time with a cute turtle! The jacket is made from GOTS-certified organic cotton with a hint of stretch, designed with a removable hood, four pockets, and a ribbed neckline.

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Shop Mini Rodini @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Mini Rodini Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Mini Rodini Pre-Owned @ Retykle.

Shop Mini Rodini.

Dimples

Rated: Good

Pretty Brave Archie Boot – Ships internationally from New Zealand

Dimples is a New Zealand based brand that offers a large range of specialist baby and mother care products. The brand uses the highest-quality soft, warm New Zealand merino and pure organic cotton to make a wide range of baby clothing, blankets, and accessories. The Archie Boot ticks all the boxes for the first day of school: with its soft leathers, practical inside zip, protective toe kick, and modern sole it’s a fan-favourite!

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Shop Dimples Pre-Owned @ Retykle.

Shop Dimples.

Coq en Pâte

Rated: Great

Lion Backpack – Ships internationally from France

Coq en Pâte is a French sustainable brand that creates children’s accessories and fashion brand which places ethics in the heart of all creative processes. This fun lion backpack is too cute to not make it on this list!

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Shop Coq en Pâte.

Eco-friendly outfit for elementary school

This is when things start getting serious. Maths, history, science, grammar—kiddos are learning so many new things, it’s an exciting time! It’s still important that kids feel comfortable in their clothes while experiencing different styles and discovering their own personalities.

sustainable back to elementary school outfit

Rudy Jude

Rated: Good

Kids Tony Shirt – Ships internationally from the US

Naturally dyed, organic, and crafted in the US, Rudy Jude offers a sustainable alternative to the excessive waste produced by children’s clothing. It uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials and limits the amount of chemicals used in production. This classic shirt is made from organic cotton and is perfect to look smart on the first day of class.

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Shop Rudy Jude.

Frugi

Rated: Good

Comfy Cody Jeans – Ships internationally from the UK

Frugi is a British label that specialises in bright, wearable organic clothing for women and children. There are plenty of playful designs as well as classics. Frugi has you covered for maternity wear and nursing clothes, as well as baby and children’s wear. We love the distinctive designs (like in these cool jeans) and commitment to putting the planet first.

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Shop Frugi.

Shop Frugi second hand @ Retykle.

Infantium Victoria

Rated: Great

Beige Coton Parka – Ships internationally from Germany

Infantium Victoria offers beautiful vegan luxury for all ages. This German brand scores ‘Great’ across the board! Its products are certified by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and it sells previously owned products to minimise textile waste. This cool light beige parka is perfect for colder rainy September days in the northern hemisphere.

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Shop Infantium Victoria.

Shop Infantium Victoria @ LVR Sustainable.

Offbeat Sweetie

Rated: Good

Starlight Kids High Tops – Ships internationally from Australia

Offbeat Sweetie is a little family-owned Australian brand. It makes fun and eco-friendly shoes for unique people. Make your child the coolest kid in town with their very own pair of Offbeat Sweetie high tops! They are comfy enough to wear all day thanks to their padded collar and lovely soft insole, and their faux leather toe caps provide extra protection whilst your child runs around living their best life!

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Shop Offbeat Sweetie.

BeeKeeper Parade

Rated: Great
red sustainable mini backpack by Beekeeper Parade

The Red Canvass Mini Royal Beekeeper Backpack – Ships internationally from Australia

BeeKeeper Global is an Australian brand that creates backpacks, iPad cases and other fashion accessories out of discarded fabric waste. For every Mini-Royal BeeKeeper Backpack you buy, you will help children access quality education in rural Cambodia. That’s an incredible thing to be able to do for a child!

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Shop Beekeeper Parade.

Ethical outfit for going back to middle school

Entering middle school means you’re getting older and so you might start thinking about your clothes a little more. And that’s okay, you do you! It’s a fun time to start learning how to put outfits together and slowly becoming more independant.

middle school sustainable outfit for going back to school

Jackalo

Rated: Good

Mac Coverall – Ships internationally from the Netherlands

Jackalo creates organic and ethical playclothes for kids. This Netherlands-based brand uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton, and reuses all of its offcuts to minimise textile waste! This is a classic coverall styling for long days of play. Sometimes kids just need one item that they can wear all day.

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Shop Jackalo.

Kings of Indigo

Rated: Good

Kids KOI Jacket – Ships internationally from the Netherlands

Kings of Indigo makes quality denims, tops, and accessories inspired by American classics with a Japanese eye for detail, including these cute and fun badges. The brand uses GOTS organic cotton as well as recycled cotton and wool, and avoids all chemicals from the REACH chemical list. Find sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop Kings of Indigo @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Kings of Indigo.

Adidas

Rated: Good

Racer TR 2.0 Sneakers – Ships internationally from Germany

Adidas is one of the largest sportswear makers in the world. The company has set some good environmental and labour standards, including an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations. Whether it’s fun with friends on the playground or organized sports, send them out in comfort and style to enjoy every minute of it thanks to these sneakers.

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Shop Adidas @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Adidas @ Labell-D.

Shop Adidas Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Adidas.

NIKIN

Rated: Good

TreeCap Baseball Kids – Ships internationally from Switzerland

If you’re the kind of teen who likes to wear their morals, look no further. Not only is a tree planted every time you purchase a NIKIN product, you also get to show your tree pride! Whether for playing in the garden or on the playground, the TreeCap Baseball Kids gives young folks a great look and protects them from too much sun.

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Shop NIKIN.

EcoRight

Rated: Good

“Houston We Have A Problem” Tote Bag – Ships internationally from India

EcoRight is an Indian brand that creates products that help people go eco-friendly in a fun way, offering items made from 100% natural fibers and sustainable materials. This simple organic cotton tote bag is perfect to carry all your books and pencils to school.

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Shop EcoRight.

Conscious and cool outfit for high school

High school: the last few years before you head out into the big world! It’s an exciting and important time, where you get to start discovering who you truly are, what your values are, and what you stand for. So what better time to start wearing clothes that make you look good, feel good, and do good?

high school sustainable outfit for going back to school

Afends

Rated: Good

Unisex Hemp Retro Fit Tee – Ships internationally from Australia

Afends is an Australia-based fashion brand leading the way in organic hemp fashion, using renewable energy in its supply chain to reduce its climate impact. In collaboration with the creative mastermind Beni, this unisex tee is part of Afends’ ‘Be Nice, Burn Backs’ artist series. It’s spun from the brand’s staple blend of hemp and OCS certified organic cotton jersey.

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Shop Afends.

nu-in

Rated: Good

Side Split Y2K Bootcut Jeans – Ships internationally from Sweden

nu-in is a European brand that features activewear, loungewear, and underwear collections, as well as trend-led men’s and women’s ranges. It prioritises the planet by using a high proportion of eco-friendly materials, and reuses offcuts to minimise textile waste. Bootcut jeans are so on trend at the moment, plus the side slip detail is perfect to show off your favorite pair of boots.

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Shop nu-in.

NAE

Rated: Good

Dylan Vegan Boots – Ships internationally from Portugal

NAE is a Portuguese footwear, bags, and accessories brand using innovative materials to create goods with “No Animal Exploitation”. Its sustainable materials include recycled PET from bottles, OEKO-TEX® certified microfibres, recycled car tyres, natural cork, recycled thermoplastic, and even pineapple leaf fibre! Docs are very popular amongst the younger generation, and this pair from NAE is such a good sustainable alternative.

See the rating.

Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Staiy.

Girlfriend Collective

Rated: Great

Moss Summit Track Jacket – Ships internationally from the US

Girlfriend Collective creates minimal, luxury clothes made with certified fair labour, certified by the Social Accountability Standard International SA8000. The brand uses eco-friendly materials like recycled polyester as well as low-impact non-toxic dyes and is fully Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified. This relaxed track jacket is durable, double-lined, and 100% recycled and recyclable.

See the rating.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ OASEAS.

Shop Girlfriend Collective.

tentree

Rated: Good
black vegan and earth-friendly backpacks by tentree

Mobius 35L Backpack – Ships internationally from Canada

tentree is a Canadian sustainable lifestyle brand that plants 10 trees for every item purchased. The certified B-Corp has already helped to remove tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and reforested over 5,000 hectares of land (that’s equal to 12,000 football fields). But its commitment to sustainability extends way beyond trees. This 4-in-1 backpack is packed with sustainably sourced materials, making it one of the most eco-progressive backpack in the world and the perfect school companion.

See the rating.

Shop tentree.

A word on swapping and reusing clothes

Finding ways to get more use out of each piece of clothing is essential to reduce the impact of our fashion choices on the planet. Circular fashion argues that we need to “transform the way clothes are designed, sold, and used, to break free from their increasingly disposable nature”. It’s important that brands ethically produce clothing that is durable and can be recycled or upcycled.

While buying new clothes at the beginning of the school year can feel good and empowering, it’s not the only solution to sustainable outfits for going back to school! Why not swap clothes with your best friends? Hand-me-downs are actually awesome—they allow you to be unique, save money, and protect the planet. Love!

Editor's note

Feature image via Rudy Jude, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use Good On You to search more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales with top-rated partners made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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