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5 Ways to Reduce Waste Back to School Edition

5 Ways to Reduce Waste Back to School Edition

Tis the season - back to school! 

It seems that store shelves are lined with plastic clamshells full of pens, pencils, and highlighters. Post it notes are tightly plastic wrapped, binders are plastic and notebook covers are too.

So many of our school supplies are made from cheap plastic. You're lucky if these items will last in an entire year! 

When these cheaply made school supplies break it forces you to buy the exact same supplies year after year. 

Don't fear, I've come up with a few ways you can reduce your waste this year. Plus, it will save you a little bit of money in the long run.

So, if you're headed back to school and got a huge long list of school supplies to buy. Let me help you out with a few eco-friendly, zero waste swaps you can make!

1. Shop your own home: 

Just because most school supplies don't last through the year (seriously how many times did I have to buy a binder hole punch because mine kept breaking!?) doesn't mean they didn't. 

Go through all of the school supplies from last year, and see if you can reuse any of them. 

A partially used box of crayons will work just as well as a brand new box. Use what you have, and then buy new when you run out. 

2. Opt for naked: 

Try to avoid plastic wrapped pens and pencils. When I was in school, my parents bought me three nice pens, and I was expected to hold onto them year after year. 

They bought me pen refills instead of new pens every year which reduced the amount of plastic I was consuming. 

Check out stationary stores or book stores. They often sell high quality office supplies loose. 

3. Go second hand: 

Don't write off the thrift store! You can typically find loose and unpackaged school supplies. I just picked up a brand new binder at Goodwill for a dollar and saw reams of college ruled paper. 

It's also a great place to visit for back to school shopping! You can pick up some new trends for a fraction of the price. 

Shopping second hand is a great way to help the environment because you're keeping the demand for new resources low. 

4. Go for forever: 

Instead of investing in a whole bunch of cheap plastic items like said binder hole punch, opt for items that will last. 

Like a nice pair of stainless scissors, a metal ruler, a metal lunch box, or a backpack with a lifetime warranty like Kipling or Jansport

My mom bought me a Ralph Lauren backpack when I started high school 15 years ago. I still have that backpack and use it as my carryon item when traveling. 

It has withheld the test of time because she invested a little bit more upfront. 

5. Make over your lunch: 

Packing lunches can be pretty wasteful, and I'm ashamed to say that I carried a brown bag to lunch in high school. I used so many plastic baggies and single use items.


If I could go back in time I would do things a little differently. First of all, I would have bought my snacks from the bulk bins.

But, if I didn't have any bulk bins near me, I would at least buy larger bags and then separate the snacks out into reusable containers. I could have easily used a bees wax wrap, a reusable silicone sandwich bag, or just used a metal lunch box that didn't even need a bag.

Try to pack zero waste lunches for school, and you'll be sure to reduce the amount of trash being made.