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Weekly Tips | August 20, 2012

Eco-Cool Back to School

Before heading back to classes, it’s time to get organized! Eco-organized, that is. Use this back-to-school checklist to try something a little different this year and challenge yourself with a zero-waste goal.   Whether buying school supplies, a backpack or clothing, there are lots of ways to set the trend for eco-cool.


Let the treasure hunt begin! Shop first at home – is there anything that can be used again from last year’s school days? Organize a clothing swap event with friends and trade old favorites. Another way to help conserve resources is by supporting the second-hand marketplace. For both vintage and modern styles, the sky is the limit on what you might find at second-hand stores like Goodwill and Value Village, and garage sales.


Start with what you already have and reuse as much as you can. For a new look, add flair to last year’s backpack, binder, lunchbox or folder with doodle art, stickers, decoupage projects and permanent markers. You can also organize a supply swap or decoration party with friends.

For all other ‘new’ supplies, everything you need for class has an eco-alternative: book bags, binders, paper, pencils, pens, staple-free staplers, non-toxic glue. Look at the label or package and purchase items with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content. If you can’t find something made from recycled products, consider sustainable sources like bamboo.

Waste-free Lunch

It’s easy to be waste-free at lunchtime with reusable lunch boxes, snack bags and BPA-free water bottles. Eat for success and reduce packaging waste by packing lunches with food from local producers.

Heels and Wheels

Your mode of transportation has a direct impact on your carbon footprint. If you live close to school, be a ‘tread’-setter and skip the car. Walk, bike, bus, skate or organize a carpool with friends!

Resources: Smencils | Treesmart Pencils | Coccoina Adhesive-Glue | The Green Office | New Leaf Paper | | Laptop Lunches | Puget Sound Fresh | Reusies | ZeroFootprint | Rebinder | Ultimate Green Store | Care 2 Make a Difference Blog – Cool Green School Supplies | Healthy Lunchboxes

The Big Picture

Every fall the fall ‘back to school’ shopping ritual entices students and their families into a retail adventure to buy the latest and greatest gadgets and fashion accessories.

According to a recent National Retail Federation consumer survey, total back-to-school spending by families with children in grades K-12 is expected to reach $30.3 billion(1).

Considered the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays, the combined K-12 and college spending is expected to reach $83.8 billion.

By purchasing gently used clothing, goods made with recycled materials and focusing new purchases on reusable items, you can save money, reduce waste and create demand for the sustainable marketplace.

Source:  (1) National Retail Federation



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