Send Them Back Sustainably: Tips for an Eco-Friendly Back to School
July 31, 2023

Send Them Back Sustainably: Tips for an Eco-Friendly Back to School

It’s already back to school time! As a new school year approaches, families stock up on supplies and gear up for the routine of packed lunches, homework and hustling out the door each morning. But back to school season also brings a spike in waste from all the shopping and school supplies. This year, keep sustainability top of mind with these tips for an eco-friendly back to school.

Lunch Time Upgrades

Pack sandwiches and snacks in sustainable containers. At Ekologicall, we have many options available such as washable and reusable snack bags, lightweight stainless steel bento boxes, as well as bee's wax wraps. I also personally have been using Thermos for hot meals for kids for years, they are very durable and come in different sizes.

Reusable snack bag with apple slices hold by a little girl in a brown dress

Don't forget to pack a reusable water bottle. Schools have a water dispenser so your kid(s) can refill their bottle during the day.

Add a cloth napkins and reusable utensils. We've just added the Spork to our inventory, check it out here! You might need to teach kids that they need to bring them back home to be washed and reused and not thrown away. It does happen, believe me! 

Little child wiping her mouth with a cloth napkin

Supply Upgrades

First, check what you already have from last year and always reuse when you can! With my kids, we check all the pencils, crayons, highlighter pens, scissors, erasers, notebooks - sometimes just a few pages have been used and you can easily remove them - and we keep them for the new school year. No need to buy a new backpack or pencil pouch/box every year, they easily last for years. My son's backpack is entering its 6th year of service, we did have to get one shoulder strap repaired 2 years ago and it will probably last until graduation (next year!).

When buying, opt for recycled and recyclable supplies like paper, notebooks, folders and binders, even wooden pencil sharpener. Look for post-consumer recycled material.

Purchase school supplies like pens, markers, crayons and erasers in bulk when possible to reduce packaging waste.

Avoid extra printouts, class packets and worksheets when you can. Use online resources, emails and apps for organization to limit paper usage.

Gently used supplies are a great low waste option too. Check thrift stores, used bookstores or buy nothing groups for recycled clothes, backpacks, binders and more.

Wisdom Supplies bonder kit

Daily Habits

Get the whole family involved in reducing waste! Make it fun for kids by letting them pick out reusable lunch bags, bottles or other back to school gear from sustainable brands like Ekologicall.

Explain the environmental impact of different choices and actions. Teach kids to use only the paper, water, light etc. that is needed.

Limit the new back to school "gear" each year and repurpose what you already have. Kids don’t need all new clothes, backpacks, supplies, etc.

Rethink routines like driving to reduce emissions. Organize carpools, walk or bike to school when possible.

Follow these tips to keep sustainability at the top of mind during back to school season. Little changes make a big difference over time! What are your favorite Low Waste Back to School Tips? Comment below!

If you have older kids or you're heading to college this year, check our previous Dorm Room Low Waste Essentials blog post here.