As you head out for back-to-school shopping, consider these 12 ideas for reducing waste, reusing and recycling to make it easier on you and the environment.

Here are a dozen tips for more sustainable school supplies, lunches, clothes, and computers.

  1. Before you head out to buy new supplies, take stock of what is still usable from last year. Donate items you can’t use to a school backpack program or locate a place to recycle them. In the Kansas City metro area, RecycleSpot can help you locate a nearby recycler for many items.
  2. Whether you’re donating or buying gently-used items, check out ScrapsKC, a non-profit craft center that reuses, repurposes and resells materials that range from school and office supplies to textiles, typewriters and hardware. The store is located at 3269 Roanoke Road, Kansas City, MO.
  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. Select refillable or biodegradable pens and recycled pencils.
  7. Look for soy-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.
  8. Even dried-out markers, highlighters and dry-erase markers can be recycled. Individuals and schools can participate through ColorCycle at Crayola.
  9. This school year skip the disposable plastic sandwich bags and choose BPA-free reusable containers instead.
  10. Use a stainless steel or up-cycled, reusable lunch box. Pack a washable cloth napkin, thermos and reusable utensils.
  11. When buying fruits and vegetables for school lunches, support local farmers markets. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over pre-packaged foods.
  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: Lucelia Ribeiro / CC