Back to school without the waste

Back to School without the Waste | Cellist Goes Green

I loved back to school shopping as a kid.  There was something about having new pens, and clean paper that made me excited for another school year.

But all of that new stuff creates a lot of waste.

So here are some ideas to cut down on some of the new stuff, and when you can't, some ideas for replacing some of the plastic with natural materials.

Use what you have.

If you are a student: go through your supplies from last year, and find what can be used again.  Do your pens have most of the ink left?  Use them.  Is your binder in good shape?  Use it again.  Did you only use a quarter of that notebook?  Rip out the pages you used, and keep the blank ones.

If you are a parent: go through your child's supplies from last year.  Find what is usable, and present it in a way that makes it fun and cleaned up.  Gather up pens and pencils (make sure pens have ink, and pencils are sharp).  Tear out the used pages from last year's notebooks, and empty out binders.  Tie up everything with a ribbon or some twine. 

If you have kids who are used to a big back to school shopping trip, try replacing it with a fun activity before school starts--a camping trip, roller skating, a trip to an amusement park or the city, anything they would enjoy.

When you need to buy new, try for natural materials.

If you or your child needs something new, try to look for supplies made of natural materials.  That way, when they reach the end of their life, they can be composted.

Instead of plastic binders, many of which are made of PVC, try a binder made of recycled cardboard.
Instead of plastic mechanical pencils, try wooden pencils which are FSC-certified.
Instead of buying a plastic pencil pouch, find one on Etsy.  (I use this one for knitting supplies, and I like this one and this one).
Instead of plastic highlighters, try highlighter pencils.
Instead of plastic backpacks, get a backpack made from natural materials.  Smaller one for younger kids / Larger one for adults or high school students
Use paper bags to make book covers instead of using the ones made of plastic at the store.  Video how-to here.


This post includes affiliate links to Life Without Plastic, a company whose mission and values I fully support.  As always, I recommend trying to buy used or use what you have first, and as a second choice looking for products from a company who makes ethical and sustainable products.