Make your back-to-school shop an ethical one with The Big Issue

Help other children get a good education when you buy your kids' supplies through the Big Issue Shop

The school summer holidays are over and parents have been heading to the shops to kit out their kids for the term ahead.

The Big Issue Shop is packed with products that will help make your children’s return to school easy. Everything on sale has a social echo – in many cases this means that in buying them you ensure that children in more deprived areas of the world can access a good education.

The importance of school is the lesson Elephant Branded is hoping to teach the world, with their vintage-style school bags and kit.


For every piece that the company sells, a child in Cambodia receives a school bag or kit made out of locally sourced, recycled materials.

James Munro Boon, Elephant Branded founder, said: “Education is not just about donating school books, it is also about giving locals the skills to start their own businesses and the opportunity to get themselves out of poverty.

“By supporting local women through the making of each bag and their children by providing school equipment, we hope to break the cycle of poverty and provide real long-term change for each family.”

Meanwhile Neema Crafts is transforming the lives of people with disabilities in Tanzania through employment and education.

“We provide dignity and hope for over 120 people who previously relied on street begging or were hidden away at home,” a company spokesperson said. “Negative stereotypes held locally about people with disabilities are also being transformed. We use eco-friendly materials including sustainable teak, glass, recycled paper and elephant poo!”

There’s a real personal touch to their products; like this gorgeous pencil case which comes with a thank you card explaining details of the Neema Crafts project.


Jerry Bottle is a social enterprise selling stylish water bottles to fund water projects around the world.

“We are a not for profit company with charitable aims for health, the environment and sustainability. We believe water is essential for all, and we work with schools, businesses, charities and public bodies to promote drinking water. We want everyone to carry a jerry with them everywhere they go. Water is essential for a healthy body and mind, so if you drink more you will be able to think and do more”


Lanka Kade create sustainable, fair trade toys that inspire children to learn through play. Each purchase of a Lanka Kade product directly supports the Lanka Kade Educational Foundation which provides several disadvantaged rural schools in Sri Lanka with books and daily milk drinks, to ensure that all students are better equipped for learning. Children can learn the alphabet with this A-Z Jigsaw Dinosaur made from rubber wood using non-toxic paint.


Originally created by a wheelchair user, Trabasack has improved the lives of thousands of disabled people. Made by social enterprise, fully funded from retail sales, all profits are reinvested to create, discover and share new products that help disabled people and promote social inclusion. 

Trabasack Square 1

For the slightly older child, sturdy, durable and beautiful,  The Social Mercenary has joined forces with Ethical Apparel Africa to bring you this unique Akwasi backpack from an ethical factory in Accra, Ghana. 


Discover all these and the rest of our Back to School collection in The Big Issue Shop