Get Back to the Classroom with Made in America School Supplies

By Matt Heller
Aug 13 2021 |
Decomposition Books makes eco-conscious products “with a whimsical, fashion-forward aesthetic.” The company says it makes its products “here in the USA whenever possible.” Photo by Decomposition by Michael Roger

No matter what age, we’ve got you covered with ideas for school supplies that are Made in the USA.

Fall is fast approaching — the days are getting shorter, summer camps are wrapping up, and pumpkin spice lattes will soon be back in season. But more importantly, for parents across the country with kids, whether they are going into kindergarten or their senior year of college: Back to School shopping season is here.

After a long year and a half of Zoom lessons for many, students are finally going back to classrooms, and they’re going to need plenty of school supplies to get them through the year. We at the Alliance for American Manufacturing put together this handy guide of products that should be on your back-to-school shopping lists that are also Made in the USA. Be sure to check the label, though: While we did our best to pick out American-made items, some of these companies do manufacture some of their products abroad.

Elementary School

Backpacks: Nothing says back-to-school quite like buying a backpack, especially when you finally get to go to school further away than your kitchen table. Fortunately, there’s plenty of options that are Made in America, such as Make it Simple from California. There’s also sleek selections from North St or DSPTCH which both make high-quality, sturdy bags that can last years. And if you’re feeling something really fancy (maybe for someone a bit older than your first grader), take a look at Cross Canvas’ bags made out of waxed canvas and leather.

Crayola’s crayons debuted in 1903, and they are still Made in America. Photo via HA! Designs – Artbyheather

Lunchboxes: For the parent looking for a sturdier alternative to the brown paper bag, look no further than Bags USA and their line of affordable, reusable lunch bags (and it might also be smart for you to grab an extra for your return to the office). And for keeping lunch organized inside the box, check out Re-Play’s Snack Stacks, which are reusable containers made out of recycled plastic.

Art Supplies: While there’s always time for reading, writing and math, the fun of elementary school is always arts and crafts. So check out products from Crayola for crayons, colored pencils, and markers that are all Made in America. Another great brand to check out is Liqui-Mark, who makes dry erase and color markers, as well as highlighters. Also, consider picking up Riverside construction paper for something colorful to draw on. And, finally, if you’re really looking to get really artsy, check out Decoart for an online marketplace of paints, chalks and brushes all Made in the USA.

For some more utilitarian classroom essentials, make sure to also pick up Elmer’s Glue and Scotch Tape, both of which are Made in America.

Middle and High School

Pens and Pencils: If there’s one thing you’ll need for middle and high school, it’s going to be pens and pencils. For pens, be on the lookout for Pilot, which despite being owned by a Japanese company, are Made in the USA. And for whenever you need a #2 pencil to take a standardized test, make sure to pick up some Write Dudes pencils that are made from American cedar wood.

Notebooks and Binders: School no longer on Zoom means an excuse to finally close the laptop and get back to taking notes by hand. Consider taking your notes in an American made notebook, such as one from Five Star! Or consider picking up the Decomposition Notebook, which is made out of 100% recycled paper. If binders are more your speed, make sure to get a Grainger Binder, which is Made in the USA, and fill it with American-made loose leaf paper from Five Star.

Staying Organized: Students in middle and high school need to be organized in order to balance all their activities. Check out Common Deer for a selection of Made in the USA planners, calendars, and small notebooks. And if you’re the type of person who likes to leave notes on your desk to stay on top of things, the original Post-its are Made in America by the company 3M. Finally, dry erase boards are always great tools for studying or jotting down notes — consider going for an American-made option from Magnatag.

College

Electronics: Nothing screams college student more than sitting on the quad with your laptop open — maybe even while doing school work, too! While most laptop brands are imported, the Chinese-owned company Lenovo makes its line of Thinkpads in North Carolina. You could also consider Falcon Northwest’s line of high-powered laptops that are Made in the USA. You’re also going to want to pick up a pair of headphones for your laptop, too — consider an American-made brand like Audeze or Grado.

Aeropress is so beloved there’s even an international competition to make the best cup of coffee using the coffeemaker. Photo by Aeropress

Coffeemaker: Coffee is a college student’s best friend, trust me. Rather than go for that Chinese-manufactured single-cup coffee maker that won’t be named here, consider picking up a Made in America product that will make a better cup of coffee, like Aeropress, which we profiled back in May. Filtron and Chemex also offer ways to brew with a machine Made in the USA.

Blankets, Towels, and Linens: When you’re picking out bedding for your dorm room, check out Red Land Cotton (which we profiled recently on our blog) for sheets and towels. If you’re looking for a blanket, look no further than Amana’s line of products, made in Iowa. For some other great Made in America brands, check out American Towels or American Blossom Linens.

Storage: Dorms are cramped, so you’re going want to make some extra space to store more stuff. One way is to raise your bed up, and you should consider using Utopia Bedding’s Bed Risers that are Made in the USA. Or for something super sturdy, check out iPrimio’s heavy duty bed risers that are made out of American-made aluminum. And once you’ve made space, consider getting Rubbermaid containers to store your stuff, since they’re also American-made.

Decor: No one wants to be the one with completely bare walls in their dorm, so check out some fantastic wall art that’s Made in the USA through Common Deer. Plus, since tapestries are almost ubiquitous to a college dorm nowadays, check out these Made in the USA tapestries on Wayfair (be careful to keep the Made in the USA filter on!). Besides walls, consider also getting a scented candle for your desk to keep your dorm smelling fresh. Chesapeake Bay Candles and Beehive Candles both make great products to choose from, right here in the U.S.!

Cleaning: Yes, dorms do have to be cleaned, much as some college students might not want to admit it. Consider picking up some cleaning products from Bon Ami for simple, natural cleaning products Made in the USA. For laundry, consider picking up products like detergent and dryer sheets from Arm and Hammer. And for cleaning floors, check out Metrovac’s hand-held vacuums — they’re some of the smallest, most powerful vacuums on the market that are “deliberately made better in the USA.”

Did we miss any American-made school supplies? Anything on your list we missed that you want Made in the USA? Let us know on Twitter @KeepitMadeinUSA or email us info@americanmanufacturing.org