Skip to main content

12 ways to head back-to-school with eco-friendly style

As back-to-school shopping begins, loosen the pressure to buy all new clothes and school supplies, and use these tips to make your fall transition easier on you and the environment.

Here are a dozen ideas for more sustainable school supplies, lunches, clothes, computers and even student desks for your home.

1. Before you head out to buy new supplies, take stock of what is still usable from last year. Donate what you can’t use to a school backpack program or locate a place to recycle them.Prang crayonsEDB1200E-1E4F-395D-A3DB658A8C2DCA28

2. Look for soybean-based crayons. Prang Soy Crayons are made from 100-percent renewable resources and are free of paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum and can take years to decompose in a landfill. To recycle old crayons, contact the National Crayon Recycle Program. They accept every type of crayon and recycle them into new Crazy Crayons.

3. Designate a storage space for school supplies at home to prevent overbuying every year.

4. Buy recycled paper, and put a recycling container in your children’s bedrooms to encourage them to start recycling now to make it a life-long practice.

5. Choose cardboard or canvas binders that can be recycled, instead of standard plastic binders.

6. Choose refillable or biodegradable pens and recycled pencils.

MT_Stashers_Fish_1557. This school year, skip the disposable plastic sandwich bags and choose BPA-free reusable containers instead. Stashers storage bags are made from food-grade silicone and have no BPA, latex, vinyl, PVC or polyester. They are reusable and work in the dishwasher, microwave or freezer.

8. Pack a washable cloth napkin, thermos and reusable utensils.

9. When buying fruits and vegetables for school lunches, support local farmers markets. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over pre-packaged foods.

10. Use a stainless steel or up-cycled, reusable lunch box.

11. If this is the year for a desk or computer for your student, consider buying used or repurposed items. Surplus Exchange, 518 Santa Fe St., Kansas City, MO, sells gently used and refurbished computers, laptops, iPads, tablets, printers and other electronics. There’s also a big supply of desks, chairs, file cabinets and other furniture.

12. The first day of school outfit can be a big decision for kids and parents each year. Make sure your students know that trendy and fashionable clothes can be found in thrift shops and second-hand stores. You can also find standard school uniform separates like white shirts and blue and khaki pants. Always check that each potential purchase is in its best condition, unless you plan on repurposing and restyling it. When clothes have been outgrown, donate the items that are still in good condition to local charities for continued reuse.


Photo: Woodleywonderworks // CC BY

0 0 votes
Article Rating

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
LuAnn Foty
6 years ago

Thank you Greenability for mentioning the National Crayon Recycle Program in your Back to School tips.
We also offer the Eco Stars (20 pack) as an option for use at school. Imagine a crayon with five points!!!
100 points of color in a box of 20 Eco Stars!!
Crayola Brand makes over 120,000 pounds of crayons every day, yikes, how many dumpsters does that fill??? Please recycle your crayons!