Whether you’re going back to school or you have a student preparing for class, these eco friendly tips for back to school season will be so helpful! An eco friendly school year doesn’t have to be overwhelming and difficult. Something as simple as shopping locally or packing more plant-based foods for lunch can do the trick! Let’s dive into 8 simple eco friendly tips for the new school year.
Thrift School Clothes
Everyone wants new clothes to hit the books but that doesn’t mean you have to support fast fashion. Instead of shopping at Target or Walmart for new school clothes, try thrift stores online or resale shops in your hometown. This is a great way to not only reuse clothing but also save money.
If you’re looking for a place to thrift shop locally, head to the thrift store or secondhand shop in your hometown. You can usually find these places by a quick Google search or on Facebook for your area. Also, you could check out garage sales around your neighborhood or Facebook Marketplace.
If you live near a larger city, you will find large thrift shopping chains such as Plato’s Closet to find used clothes.
It’s so easy to create a collection of plastic, throw away bottles at school. Between water, coffee, and juice, that’s a lot of plastic! Instead of packing plastic water bottles for class, pack a refillable stainless steel water bottle or stainless steel cup. You can refill this at the drinking fountains in the hallways without creating trash.
Instead of picking up a coffee on the way to school, either add making coffee at home to your morning routine or pack a reusable mug. If you choose to make coffee at home, you can pack it in a travel mug to go while saving so much money.
However, if you love getting your morning cup of joe locally to support a local business, simply pack your own mug. Many coffee shops will even give you a discount on your drink for bringing your own mug.
Pack Plant-Based Lunch
Lunch time can be a great time to make some zero waste swaps. Instead of eating the school lunches, save money by packing plant-based foods in reusable containers. You will decrease waste immensely while eating foods that fuel your body for the rest of the day.
Instead of packing Lunchables, try creating your own bento box with hummus, rice crackers, and veggies. Instead of packing cold meat sandwiches, make your own peanut butter and jelly in a stainless steel sandwich box with a cloth napkin.
To prevent food waste, be sure to pack only how much food you think you will eat and take home your own food scraps to compost!
For snacks before and after lunches, you could pack grapes or pretzels in reusable cotton snack pouches. You’ll eliminate the need to purchase prepackaged snacks at the grocery store or in the lunch line. Here are some other Zero Waste Snack Ideas.
For plant-based recipes you can make for school lunches, grab a copy of The Zero Waste Vegan Cookbook. You’ll find so many delicious recipes for every day of the school year.
Packing a set of reusable bamboo utensils and a stainless steel straw in your book bag, will be so helpful for reducing waste. Don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottle as well. If the lunchroom decides to give out plastic utensils, single-use plastic straws, and plastic bottles, you can grab your own to reduce waste.
If the teacher brings in snacks and drinks for a treat, instead of using the throwaways, once again you’ll be prepared to grab your own reusable options. This may even spark the interest of other students and the teacher to make the switch.
Be sure to bring your eco friendly lunch box as well! Many brands these days create lunchboxes made with sustainable materials like stainless steel, recycled plastic, and bamboo. Stainless steel lunch boxes are my personal go-to but there are really so many options these days! A reusable lunch bag is something you can use for many school years to come.
Public Transport or Carpool
Rather than driving a car to school or taking your child to school, you could start taking the local bus or carpool with those in your neighborhood. You’ll be reducing emissions while making friends.
If there is a subway, train or even ferry nearby you could hop on that. If none of these options exist and you’re not located too far from school, riding a bike would be another eco friendly transportation option.
Facebook Marketplace School Supplies
It’s so simple to take your school list and shop all the bright, colorful new school supplies at Walmart. Sadly, this isn’t eco friendly so instead of shopping for school essentials at the store, checkout Facebook Marketplace. You’ll find everything from used backpacks to folders, new notebooks, pencil cases, highlighter pencils, and even bedsheets for a dorm bed. You can usually find just about anything on Facebook Marketplace while refraining from buying new. A lot of these items are in perfect condition minus the plastic packaging.
You’ll end up saving some money while school shopping this year too. Don’t forget you can always use school supplies from the previous school year as well. You don’t need to purchase a new backpack if last year’s backpack is still in good shape.
Shop Local for Sustainable School Supplies
Whether you’re shopping for produce or needing a haircut, head to the local businesses in your area. Supporting local businesses is the perfect way to grab the last few items for school instead of shopping on Amazon. Supporting small businesses is always a good choice in my book!
Checkout the Farmer’s Market for fresh produce for making plant-based, packed lunches. Head over to the local coffee shops before school with your reusable mug rather than Starbucks. You could also checkout a local salon for your back to school haircut rather than visiting a chain salon.
Every student needs books but at the end of the year many end up in the trash. This year instead of buying textbooks, rent them. You can rent textbooks online from various websites or you can head to your local library or bookstore. This not only reduces your waste but will also save you a lot of money! If your teacher or professor approves, you could even share a rented textbook with a friend to go a step further in your eco friendly school year.
However, if you can’t find your textbooks on any rental shelf, head over to Facebook Marketplace. Many times people will sell last year’s textbooks for a fraction of the price.
Make this school year a little more sustainable. Even if you or your student has already started classes, it’s not too late to make eco friendly changes. These sustainable choices can be simple yet effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Also you’ll end up saving money! I hope you can easily implement some of these eco friendly back to school tips this upcoming school season. You can also save this post for next school year. Planning in advance can help prevent impulse buys.
If you’re a college student and looking for sustainable school ideas, check out our post Zero Waste in College!