Best of green family awards

Illustration by Catherine Song

Best of Green Awards 2021: Eco Family

For safe and eco-friendly products for pregnancy through the teen years, our editors shine the spotlight on 30 faves for the family.

Some people seem born with an environmentalist mindset; for others, eco-friendly tendencies might be inspired by a story, an event, or a set of circumstances. And one such event that oftentimes launches one into a green new paradigm is the start of a family.

From awareness brought on by striving for a healthy pregnancy to ensuring that children are in a non-toxic home or simply wanting a vibrant and viable planet for kids to grow old on, it's little surprise that becoming a caretaker of children can spark the desire to be a steward of the planet. 

And thankfully, there is a lot of help to get there: companies and makers large and small are producing a wide array of products to help families and families-to-be make greener choices.

To celebrate these companies and their products, Treehugger teamed up with sister site Verywell Family, an award-winning resource for pregnancy and parenting. With Treehugger's authority in sustainability and Verywell Family's reliable expertise in all things family, we have honored the best of the best when it comes to helping families lead eco-friendly lifestyles. 

How We Chose the Winners

For the Eco Family edition of our Best of Green Awards, we collected nominations from readers, contributors, staff, and outside experts. We carefully vetted each nominee looking for products that stand out in one or more of the following ways:

  • They are made with eco-friendly materials, such as compostable, renewable, etc.
  • They are made in a way that parts can be separated for recycling; can be upcycled; can be returned to the manufacturer at the end of their useful life.
  • They are well-made and durable.
  • They are made with non-toxic materials; they do not emit VOCs.
  • They are made with low-hazard ingredients, as per the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.
  • They are made using fair labor.
  • They are cruelty-free.
  • Their manufacture is non-polluting and resource-efficient.
  • They are packaged conscientiously.
  • They are from a company that has stated climate goals.

To help us spotlight the winners, we assembled a panel of experts to test and/or comment on the products.

Meet the Panel

Best of green awards panelists

Illustration by Catherine Song

Debi Yadegari: Founder and CEO, Villyge
Debi Yadegari is the Founder and CEO of Villyge, an employer-paid benefit company created to change the corporate landscape of working parenthood. She is also a mom of five kids.

Ginger Cowles: Senior editor, The Spruce
Ginger Cowles is the senior editor for The Spruce. She has 20 years of content and news experience and was previously the senior digital editor at Family Circle.

Lauren Levinson: Editorial director, Verywell Family
Lauren Levinson is the editorial director for Verywell Family. She has been featured in numerous national publications. She is also a #girlmom to a toddler.

Tania Arrayales: Founder, Sustainably Stylish
Tania Arrayales is the founder of Sustainably Stylish and a co-founder of Fashion of Tomorrow,  an advocacy organization that strives for a sustainable and just fashion industry.

Katherine Martinko: Senior writer, Treehugger
Katherine Martinko is a senior writer at Treehugger; as a mother of three boys, she regularly covers the family beat and is a strong advocate for free-range parenting.

Best for Pregnancy

best of green pregnancy winners

Illustration by Catherine Song

Hydro Flask Water Bottle

What to Know: Building a human requires a lot of water, which is why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends drinking eight to 12 cups of water every day during pregnancy. Enter the Hydro Flask, since we’d rather not bring our babes into a world knee-deep in plastic waste. With its 18/8 pro-grade stainless steel construction, it is extra durable and comes with a lifetime warranty. The bottle’s double-wall vacuum insulation means beverages can stay hot or cold for hours—and of course, we wouldn’t be recommending it if it weren’t BPA- and phthalate-free.

Why We Chose It: Villyge Founder and CEO Debi Yadegari says, “I love Hydro Flask! It is my family's ‘go-to’ water bottle.” For parents-to-be, we like the 21-ounce bottle with the standard flex cap. It is a nice medium size, lightweight, and easy to grab with one finger and open with one hand (especially handy, so to speak, if you already have a child in your care). Bonus points for Hydro Flask’s creation of Parks For All—a charitable program that benefits public green spaces and promotes happier, healthier lives outdoors for everyone. 

Evereden Golden Belly Serum

What to Know: Being pregnant is amazing, but it can come with a bit of discomfort from time to time, which is why we are all in for some tummy pampering—and Evereden’s Golden Belly Serum is just the ticket. Made with 11 nutrient-rich botanical actives, the formula is like a luxury face serum for the belly, naturally helping skin regain comfort, elasticity, and glow.

Why We Chose It: We love the glass bottle and that the serum is EWG Verified, meaning that it passes the strict standards set forth in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. Not to mention all those sumptuous botanicals. “I am currently pregnant with baby number two and loving this luxe serum (the chic glass bottle is Instagram-worthy),” says Lauren Levinson, editorial director of Verywell Family. “It is formulated with a medley of nourishing oils, including coconut, marula, avocado, and passion fruit. As you can imagine, it smells yummy!”

MoonWomb Pregnancy + Nursing Pillow

What to Know: The Sustainable Baby Co’s MoonWomb pillow is the stuff of dreams. At almost 3 feet long, this lovely lunar cuddler serves a multitude of uses in one sustainable package. The covers are made from organic textiles, the filling is buckwheat—and as the company notes, 100% of the materials “are eco-friendly, sustainable, ethical, and compostable so that the pillows won't be a burden on the environment or its inhabitants for future generations.”

Why We Chose It: A pregnant body can use a lot of extra support, from the bump to the back to the shoulders to the legs—and the unique crescent shape is perfect for adjusting just right. “I had a rough pregnancy and this pillow saved me from suffering during my sleep!,” says Tania Arrayales, founder of Sustainably Stylish. Adding that “the best part is that you are able to use it even after your baby is born.” Indeed, from a nursing pillow (one of those things that you think you’d never need at first, and then realize that you could never live without!) to a baby resting pillow to a storytime pillow when baby is older, the MoonWomb is multifunctional; good thing it’s so well made it should last a decade or so.

Ritual Essential Prenatal Multivitamins

What to Know: First things first: Prenatal nutrition should be discussed with your healthcare provider, who may echo the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists when they say “eating healthy foods and taking a prenatal vitamin every day should supply all the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy.” But here’s the rub—prenatal vitamins commonly have animal-sourced ingredients and/or when dealing with a sensitive tummy, can be pretty hard to stomach. Ritual’s Essential Prenatal Vitamins to the rescue! 

Why We Chose It: Ritual has formulated 12 essential pregnancy nutrients into “their cleanest and most absorbable forms.” The vitamins are gluten-free, non-GMO, free of artificial colorants and synthetic fillers, and vegan—in addition to being citrus-scented, with delayed-release designed to be easy on the stomach. When Jessica Mahgerefteh, ​​an editorial director on the Dotdash commerce team, reviewed the vitamins for sister site, Byrdie, she gave them all the feels. Noting, among other accolades, that she’s "been taking Essential Prenatal for almost seven months now and have not had any issues, even during my bouts of morning sickness. Any pregnant person will tell you that this is a major win since so many prenatal vitamins out there can exacerbate symptoms.”

The Doula Deck

What To Know: The Doula Deck is a nifty deck of 78 cards, written by renowned doula Lori Bregman, that offers meditations, movement ideas, breathing exercises, and affirmations—all in bite-size portions. Research shows that having a doula during labor “has clinically meaningful benefits” and can lead to a more natural birth. Obviously, a deck of cards isn’t going to hold your hand through labor, but adding some doula wisdom to the process certainly can’t hurt.

Why We Chose It: The subtitle of The Doula Deck is “Practices for Calm and Connection in Your Pregnancy, Birth, and New Motherhood”—did someone say “calm and connection”? Just what the doctor … or, er, doula … ordered! We love this deck for anyone who is unable to have a doula nearby—the cards are filled with helpful advice and are a great way to inspire expecting parents to remember that self-care is an important part of the process.

Best for Infants

Best of Green award infant products

Illustration by Catherine Song

Eco Boom Plant-Based Diapers

What to Know: Given the 6.6 million pounds of diapers that end up in U.S. landfills each year, we are pretty comfortable forever eschewing conventional disposables for full-time diapering. But we recognize that even parents dedicated to cloth diapers need a disposable from time to time, and for those times we like Eco Boom plant-based diapers

Why We Chose It: Eco Boom diapers earned a spot in Treehugger’s Best Biodegradable Diapers round-up, in which writer Lorraine Wilde explains: “Eco Boom’s back sheet and absorbent material are made from 100% biodegradable and Forest Stewardship Council Certified sustainably-harvested bamboo that is free of chlorine, PVC, TBT, alcohol, phthalates, latex, and preservatives. The top sheet is extra soft because it’s a blend of cotton and bamboo.” We like that it is biodegradable within 90 days without residual harmful substances, and has obtained the European "Seedling" certification. And for sensitive tushes, Wilde notes this diaper is “top-rated among parents of children whose sensitive skin reacts to other biodegradable brands.”

Esembly Reusable Baby Wipes

What to Know: While baby wipes may be a product of incredible convenience, the world’s oceans, landfills, and sewer systems (behold the fatberg) beg to differ. The solution: reusable wipes! Yes, that’s right—meet Esembly Reusable Baby Wipes. These are made from 100% certified organic cotton cloth; they are biodegradable, packaged in recyclable BPA-free plastic, and are EWG Verified, meaning no hazardous chemicals will come into contact with your baby’s skin.       

Why We Chose It: “If you're already using cloth diapers, why wouldn't you use reusable cloth baby wipes, too?” says Katherine Martinko, senior writer for Treehugger. “It's a no-brainer to toss these in the washing machine along with the diapers and never have to spend money on pricey disposable wipes that (a) pollute with microplastic fibers and sometimes not-so-nice ingredients, and (b) feel cold and uncomfortable on your baby's sensitive skin. These all-cotton cloths can help you keep things simple by using just warm water and soap.”

The Good Tee Fair Trade Baby Onesie

What to Know: Here’s something they don’t tell you in “gonna have a baby” school: You will become an expert in onesies. And if in your onesie journey you decide you want a really fabulous one that is planet- and worker-friendly, then The Good Tee’s Organic Cotton Onesie is a great place to start. Made by a company whose mission is to "humanize the fashion industry," these thoughtfully designed essentials are made from super-soft 100% organic cotton slub jersey (160 GSM weight), with a convenient snap opening and envelope neckline. 

Why We Chose It: The Good Tee’s onesies are designed in Canada, ethically made in India, and rely on “Radical Supply Chain Transparency." We love that the company focuses on workers, as they explain: “We stand apart from most ethically labeled brands because we are actively involved in the entire production process and manage the full supply chain—from seed to shelf—and openly share information. We subscribe to the philosophy of slower production schedules, ethical working conditions, and fair deals for all.” And of course, we love the onesies themselves. “The best quality!,” says Arrayales. “From onesies to little sets, these are items you keep and pass down. My favorite mask is also from The Good Tee!”

Pura Kiki Infant Bottle

What to Know: There has been a lot of concern about plastic problems and what goes in a baby’s mouth, so we were over the moon to discover Pura’s Kiki Infant Bottle—the only 100% plastic-free baby bottle on the market. The bottle is made from #304 stainless steel and the nipple is made from 100% medical grade silicone. (And while there is a debate about whether silicone is actually plastic or not, we would gladly take it over some of the other popular (and problematic) synthetic polymers used in baby products.) 

Why We Chose It: In addition to being plastic-free, this bottle has a lot of other things going for it. For starters, it’s lightweight, dishwasher safe, and shatter-proof. But it’s also ingenious: By swapping the nipple for one of Pura’s other lids, the baby bottle evolves as your baby grows. “I'm a big fan of items that you can keep using throughout the life of your kid,” says Arrayales. “These bottles start as infant bottles but turn into a sippy cup and straw cup. And the best part is that it's leak-proof.”

Dr. Bronner's Baby Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

What to Know: Some might say that Treehugger writers and editors are Dr. Bronner’s superfans—and they would be correct! The company’s soaps are concentrated, biodegradable, versatile, effective, and made with organic and certified fair trade ingredients. For babies and youngsters, we love the brand’s Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. It has no added fragrance and has double the olive oil, making it great for sensitive skin—it gets an A grade from EWG and we found that it is perfect for laundering baby clothes and diapers.

Why We Chose It: “This liquid soap is famously versatile,” says Martinko, “but one of its lesser-known uses is as a mild laundry detergent, perfect for ensuring your baby's skin never gets irritated.” Lisa Bronner recommends using 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of the soap for each large load in a regular washer. If you have hard water, add 1 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle via the fabric softener compartment. “While you're at it,” adds Martinko, “you can also use the soap to wash your baby from head to toe!” 

Chagrin Valley Baby Skin Care Set

What to Know: Given the choice and knowledge, most people would likely opt not to slather their infant with unsafe ingredients—so it’s good to know that there are brands like Chagrin Valley making safe and beautiful products for babies. The family-owned and operated soap and salve company offers a Natural Baby Skin Care Set that features a sampling of their baby products (powder, bath oil, soap, bum salve, and body balm)—that all get the safest rating from EWG.

Why We Chose It: Although Chagrin has a full line of natural and USDA-certified organic skin and hair care products, we were especially impressed with the baby products. As with all of their products, the items are biodegradable, cruelty-free, and rainforest certified. We also love that packaging is 99% plastic-free, and that the proprietors not only talk the talk but walk the walk. 

Made Of Diaper Rash Cream

What to Know: For some babies, not having a good diaper rash cream is not an option. And for babies in the desperately-need-diaper-rash-cream camp, we love Made Of Diaper Rash Cream. The company’s mission is to create effective products made of organic and plant-derived ingredients. And they pay a lot of attention to transparency in, sourcing, manufacturing, testing, handling, and certification—as can be seen in the cream’s EWG Verified status and an array of other seals.

Why We Chose It: “If your baby has a sensitive bum, try a more natural diaper rash cream like this one. It contains organic ingredients, such as oils (organ, avocado, coconut, lavender) and cocoa seed butter,” says Levinson. “Non-nano zinc oxide helps to create a barrier, under which irritated skin can heal. Plus, the formula is stamped by EWG, NSF Organic Standard, and Leaping Bunny.” (Note: Like many diaper creams, it does contain beeswax, making it unsuitable for vegans.)

Best for Toddlers

best of green awards eco family toddler winners

Illustration by Catherine Song

Bornn Enamelware

What to Know: Figuring out safe, eco-friendly tableware for kids is hard! But enamelware may be the perfect solution as it is durable and plastic-free. And in the case of Bornn’s enamelware plates, mugs, bowls, it can be wildly fun and gorgeous to boot. We love the New Marble collection shown above—the swirls are made using a traditional marbling method that dates back to the 15th century—but all of the collections will bring cheer to the table. 

Why We Chose It: Who wants plastic or ceramic when you can have heavy-gauge steel that’s hand-dipped in enamel? These are both dishwasher safe and oven friendly—and will not shatter should a toddling one knock it off the table. And did we mention they are fun and gorgeous? “I want and need these!,” says Arrayales. “Who says kids items have to be ugly, these are elegant and would make a perfect addition to any kitchen.”

Oyoy We Love Animals Cutlery

What to Know: Some kids are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but we’ll take this stainless penguin spoon any day instead, thank you very much. Made by Oyoy—the design-forward company founded by Danish designer Lotte Fynboe—the We Love Animals cutlery set comes with a spoon, fork, and knife engraved with a panda, rabbit, and penguin. The set is made in brushed stainless steel and is dishwasher safe.

Why We Chose It: Children’s cutlery and tableware can be tricky; you don’t want something so precious that it’s not practical for kids, but a lot of parents don’t want to use plastic with their children’s food. This is why stainless steel is perfect for kids' silverware, says Melissa Breyer, Treehugger’s Editorial Director. “I am partial to the Oyoy set because it reminds me of the elephant-engraved stainless dinner set my Norwegian grandma gave me when I was little,” confesses Breyer. “And the proof is in the pudding: My set was so cute and durable that many decades later, my kids got to love it as well.”

Honeysticks Bath Crayons

What to Know: Whoever came up with the idea of bath crayons is a genius, plain and simple—and Honeysticks Bath Crayons get extra kudos for their natural, non-toxic goodness. Just think: Art without waste plus bathtime fun without plastic toys; total win-win. Honeysticks beeswax crayons are handmade from 100% natural and non-toxic food-grade ingredients, with natural colorants that are easy to clean. 

Why We Chose It: This is just a great version of a great idea. Non-toxic, with bonus points for the recyclable packaging and especially the smart storage canister with drain holes. “Babies and toddlers put EVERYTHING in their mouths so ensuring that their items are safe is very important,” says Arrayales, “which is why I love the Honeysticks! I don't worry as much and they draw beautifully on the tub.”

Kinderfeets: Tiny Tot Plus 2-in-1 Bike

What to Know: Inspired by traditional Dutch bikes, the Kinderfeets Tiny Tot Plus 2-in-1 Bike is a vehicle that does double duty as a tricycle, and then a balance bike when a child is ready. As the company notes, “a life without training wheels is a life fully explored.” The adjustable seat has a height of 10 to 13 inches and a weight capacity of 55 pounds—suitable for kids from 18 months to 4 years. Aside from the company’s thoughtfully sustainable practices, they donate a part of their profits to Trees for the Future.

Why We Chose It: Bike training for tots? Yes, please! We love that the 2-in-1 gets kids on bikes starting from such an early age—and how the bikes serve as a learning tool that fosters independence, confidence, and development. Not to mention that the bikes are made from fast-growing, pesticide-free bamboo and/or eco-friendly birch or FSC-certified German beechwood, water-based paints, and lacquers and have minimal packaging and recycled paper where necessary.

Lovevery: The Block Set

What to KnowLovevery’s Block Set is seriously the ultimate block set. It is comprised of 70 solid wood blocks made of sustainably harvested FSC-certified wood in a rainbow of water-based, non-toxic paint and finishes. The set (which comes in a super cute storage box that doubles as a pull car) was created by child development experts and the blocks can be used in more than 20 stage-based activities; from stacking, rolling, and sorting to counting and categorizing.

Why We Chose It: We love that this heirloom-quality set is plastic-free and meets or exceeds global safety standards for babies and children. Additionally, that it was “created with the future in mind”—in that it can grow with children from 18 to 48+ months. “Living in NYC I was afraid that my home would become a colorful plastic place! Thankfully Lovevery has kept it neutral and plastic-free,” says Arrayales. “Not to mention the fact that I don't have to think about upkeeping the toys and activities as my kid grows.”

Beya Made Expandable Romper

What to Know: The problem with baby clothing is that babies grow out of everything in the blink of an eye. This is why Beya Made’s Expandable Romper makes so much sense. With features like long straps with double snaps, legs that are designed for rolling up, and a stylishly baggy seat suitable for cloth diapers, the romper is designed to be adjustable and grow with your child, fitting three times longer than a standard one. 

Why We Chose It: The price-point here might seem steep, but given that these rompers last through several stages of growth makes it worthwhile; plus, they can be used for multiple kids. “This gender-neutral 100% linen romper can be adjusted to be longer as your child grows. It's the perfect investment piece to hand down to the second baby,” says Levinson. “And yes,” she adds, “it is machine washable!”

Raw Elements Baby + Kids Zero Waste Sunscreen

What to Know: With passing marks from EWG, where it gets the best score of 1, Raw Elements Baby + Kids Zero Waste Sunscreen is a broad spectrum 30+ SPF sunscreen specifically formulated for children. It is designed for full-body coverage, is water-resistant up to 80 minutes, is biodegradable, and uses non-GMO and certified organic ingredients.

Why We Chose It: “You can't help but love sunscreen that comes in a recyclable aluminum tin,” says Martinko. “It's a non-nano zinc-based formula that ensures your kid's skin won't be absorbing any harmful chemicals, and it's gentle enough not to sting or run into their eyes. Being highly water-resistant, it will continue to protect them as they splash at the beach this summer, and you can rest assured knowing that it's reef-safe, cruelty-free, and contains no allergens like soy, nuts, or gluten.”

Best for School Age

best of green awards school age winners

Illustration by Catherine Song

Puro Volume Limited Bluetooth Headphones

What to Know: Puro’s BT2200s Volume Limited Bluetooth Headphones are designed to protect children’s eardrums from early hearing damage, based on the World Health Organization’s recommendation of an 85 dB-limited volume range. Young audiophiles will enjoy the “genuine studio sound, including clear, crisp vocals and full dynamic bass,” while the built-in microphone will come in handy for learning and other interactive media. Bluetooth pairing provides a 30-foot range and means no danger of getting tangled up in audio cables. Finally, these comfy and durable headphones are made on an aluminum base rather than plastic, giving them an edge in the sustainability department.

Why We Chose It: “In a word, these are great,” notes Ginger Cowles, senior editor at The Spruce, who says that she had no concerns about ear-health issues, thanks to the built-in volume limit. “My two-year-old daughter enjoyed using them during an hour-long car ride,” Cowles adds, “She didn't fuss because our music was too loud for her to hear Dora the Explorer or Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and my husband and I could chat at a normal volume and not feel the constant need to adjust volumes—be it Spotify, her show, or our voices. Looking forward to using them on an upcoming flight. I wish we had purchased them sooner.”

Lowen's Bubble (Bath) Paste 

What to Know: Bubbles are great for enticing kids to get into the tub. But the idea of soaking in a soup of potentially harmful ingredients—and getting them in the eyes and mouth—is not so inviting. Which is why we were impressed with Lowen’s Bubble Paste. Made with three simple ingredients, this cruelty-free formula is EWG Verified and comes from a family-owned skincare company started by a veteran pharmacist and committed to using organic, fair-trade, and/or locally sourced ingredients.

Why We Chose It: The company’s simple mission says it all, “Betterment: If you’re not making things better, then what’s the point?” And we say that this is indeed a better bubble product! So many bubble bath formulations come with questionable ingredients and problematic packaging, but Lowen’s is just about perfect. “The simple ingredient list is super kid-friendly and that it comes as a paste in a tub adds an extra bit of fun factor,” says Breyer. “And not only is the tub fun, but that Lowen’s offers a refillable option makes it a nice low-waste option as well.”

HABA Terra Kids Cork Boat

What to Know: The world is full of toy boats—understandably so, what kid doesn’t love a toy boat?—but the Terra Kid’s Cork Boat stands out. Made of compressed cork granules (read: not plastic) the boat is virtually unsinkable and cute to boot. Great for baths, puddles, ponds, pools, and any other place where there’s water for a seafaring adventure.

Why We Chose It: It’s all smooth sailing with this toy boat—the most sustainable one we’ve seen yet! Some light assembly is required, making it a fun activity for young boat-builders. But then the fun really begins, as the vessel is amenable to all kinds of customizations making it a DIY dream. Sails made of leaves? A boom made of twigs? A rutter made of bark? The possibilities are endless.

Bee's Wrap Reusable Wraps

What to Know: At some point, everyone aiming to reduce their plastic waste must tackle the headache of this: How in the world does one give up saran wrap and zipper bags? How does one pack a lunch without single-use plastics? Thankfully, wax wraps do the job! We especially like Bee's Wrap Reusable Wraps. They are made from organic cotton, sustainable beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. The Vermont-based company was founded in 2012, and is a certified B corporation and certified Green America company that also supports 1% for the Planet, The Bee Cause, and other conservancy and environmental stewardship organizations. The prints are especially cute, and the company even sells the waxed material by the roll. 

Why We Chose It: Bee’s Wrap wraps are durable and reusable, and they cover and hold food perfectly. We use them for everything from snacks and sandwiches to bread loaves, storing fruit, and covering bowls. “These worked so well!” says Cowles. “To test, I halved a huge 3/4-pound Honeycrisp apple and used half in a salad and saved the other half in the medium-sized wrap (10 by 11 inches). Six hours later, I came back for the second half for a snack, and there was nary a speck of brown. Perfect! Washing was a cinch.”

Stabilo Woody 3 in 1 

What to Know: The inherent sustainability of multi-function products—from transformer furniture to multipurpose cleaners—makes them Treehugger favorites. And now we have a shapeshifting colored pencil/watercolor/wax crayon to add to the art box, thanks to the Stabilo Woody 3 in 1. The chunky pencils are great for smaller hands and each one applies as much color as eight standard colored pencils. They work great on a variety of surfaces, not just paper, and easily wash off smooth surfaces like windows.

Why We Chose It: These remind us of the fancy Caran D'Ache aquarelle pencils that you can draw and color with, and then use with a wet brush for water-coloring—but in a much more forgiving and kid-friendly format. Treehugger reader Leah S. further explains the Woody’s appeal: "The Stabilo Woody 3-in-1 pencil crayons have been a durable and multipurpose tool. The kids use them and can’t break them like crayons. They wash off basically everything except perhaps light coloured upholstery. We use them to label jars of bulk food and to write messages on our glass windows and storm doors. My husband even uses them to teach instead of whiteboard markers." 

Best for Teens & Tweens

Best of green award winners for tweens and teens

Illustration by Catherine Song

Waxhead Sunscreen Paste Tin

What to Know: Waxhead’s travel-friendly, pocket-size  Sunscreen Paste Tins are billed as containing “the thickest, toughest, healthiest, eco-friendliest sunscreen you'll find.” And really, this product is everything “safe and sustainable” anyone could ever want in a sunscreen—from its EWG score of 1 to its simple formulation using only four ingredients to its exceptional water resistance. 

Why We Chose It: “This sunscreen hits many eco buckets: it's housed in a tin (not plastic) container, the formula contains certified-organic (edible!) ingredients, and it passes the reef-safety test,” says Lauren Levinson. “It also offers SPF 30 protection and is easy to use on-the-go.”

Earth Lover Lunch Pair

What to Know: This darling compostable lunch box and water bottle set was crowned Best Overall by writer Steph Dyson in Treehugger’s round-up of best plastic-free lunchboxes. For tweens and teens graduating from the kids' lunchbox, this sweet duo is made of stainless steel, borosilicate glass, and a fully compostable bamboo fiber composite. 

Why We Chose It: “It's pretty enough that it just might even convert others over to plastic-free lunchboxes,” says Dyson of the Lunch Pair. “It comes with a dishwasher-safe bottle made from borosilicate glass, which means it can withstand extreme temperatures, so you can use it for an ice-cold drink for a refreshing accompaniment to lunch.” Dyson also notes that it comes from B-Corp Uncommon Goods, which is committed to supporting independent retailers to sell conscious and environmentally sound products. “They also donate $1 per purchase to non-profit partners, with over $2.5 million donated to environmental and social causes over the last two decades,” she notes.

Decomposition Notebooks & Binders

What to Know: Putting a whimsical and eco-friendly spin on the composition book, the Decomposition line of notebooks and binders comes from Michael Roger, a family-owned and operated company since 1949. The composition books are made of 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, while the binders are made with 85% post-consumer waste recycled poly. Products are made in the United States and printed with soy ink.

Why We Chose It: “OK, so maybe I stole my kid’s Decomposition notebooks,” says Breyer. “Does that make me a bad person?” Breyer says that she and her daughters love these books for their sustainability, of course, but also for their wonderful designs. “The illustrations on the covers are so fun, really something for everyone, and the inside covers have cool facts and quirky flourishes.” Breyer says her kids love these for school, and she herself loves them for general notetaking and for compiling recipes. (She also wants readers to know that she did replace her daughter’s purloined notebooks.)

Converse Vintage Canvas Chuck 70

What to Know: Coming from one of the country’s most iconic footwear companies, Converse has been making shoes for over a hundred years and the classic Chuck Taylor All Stars (AKA Chucks) since 1922. We chose the canvas Chuck 70—a super durable tween and teen fave.

Why We Chose It: The Chuck 70 employs sustainable recycled poly-canvas and complements the ultra-sustainable Renew collection as part of Converse’s promise to design towards a waste-less future. There’s a lot to love about this anti-status-symbol shoe, from its canvas and natural rubber components to its durability and versatility. Plus, it never goes out of style—take that, fast fashion.

Papier Planner

What to Know: Planners are ever-increasing in popularity, and even tweens and teens are hopping on the planner bandwagon. We found that the Papier planners (which come in calendar year and mid-year formats, depending on when you are buying) are wonderful for this age range. Best of all, the company has an impressive roster of sustainability initiatives, from minimal waste practices to using paper from FSC-certified forests.

Why We Chose It: “These are really wonderful planners for tweens and teens,” says Breyer, who likes that the company has been thoughtful and proactive about its environmental impact. The covers are really fun—but grown-up enough for anyone graduating beyond the kid themes of first diaries. (And grown-up enough for actual grown-ups, too!) “I love how the planners are laid out, with sections for goals, to-do lists, and wish lists—they are practical for actual planning, but have room for doodling and dreaming as well.”

Kapa Nui Nail Polish

What to Know: Founded by Terry Lam and Lyn M. Lam, M.D. in Hawaiʻi, Kapa Nui Nail Polish makes gorgeous colors that do not contain ingredients that are harmful to the body or the planet. All of the products earn a score of 1 or 2 (low hazard) on EWG and are PETA Certified vegan and cruelty-free. As the founders note, “Our line of products was developed with the goal of using ingredients that are not considered harmful to people, even with daily exposure, and that will degrade causing no harm to the land, sea, or air.”

Why We Chose It: We love the idea that the founders have a background in health and medicine, and worked with a chemist to create alternative nail products that are safe for everyone, including pregnant women and children. “We want all women to know they do not need to sacrifice health for beauty,” say the Lams. And as our panelist Yadegari points out, “As a mom of two girls, safe nail polish resonates with me because it is not something that is short-lived or washes away like makeup.”

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