(scroll to the end of this post to watch my Youtube video on it)
"Back to School" season is heavily advertised, forcing consumerism upon young and impressionable members of our society. This pressure does have a huge negative environmental impact, not only because of all the raw materials and non renewable resources involved in the production of these items (notebooks, pens, highlighters, etc..) but they most likely won't/can't be recycled and thus contribute to the air and land pollution of landfills.
In order to promote a more sustainable back-to-school season, I have compiled my best tips and brand suggestions (affiliate links will be disclosed):
1. Use What You Have
Pretty self-explanatory, but most of us have accumulated a lot of notebooks, pens and other school paraphernalia, enough to last us years! So using up what you already have is a sustainable and cost-effective way to get back in the season, and don't forget that you can always DIY your supplies in order for them to look new, and suit your style better.
I especially like keeping all the clean pages of my notebooks and either binding them together with thread or putting them all in a binder and using the binder as a notebook. Works so well!
Another tip is to keep all the print-outs that your school gives you and reuse the clean side of the page to print something at home. I used to do this all the time, it's super sustainable, and saves you money.
2. Thrift Everything You Need "New"
There are a lot of school supplies, especially notebooks, in thrift stores which are cheap and accessible, and if you can't find any there, don't forget to check out online second-hand marketplaces like Depop, Ebay and even Amazon (yes they have a second hand filter which you can use to browse more sustainably).
More often than not, you will need to get a ton of books (whether you're in school or uni). Thankfully however, educational institutions will have an option to rent your books so that you can reduce your waste (and they save money). This is also great because you can rent them back once you're done with them (please keep them in good condition), because most books aren't even recyclable (due to the plastic coating the pages have) :(
No matter what aspect of your life you're trying to make more sustainable, reusables are always the answer. Instead of pens, you can use a fountain pen, or there are even reusable notebooks which are perfect for planning your week/month. I would not suggest them for taking notes as you don't want those ruined, but here's a place you can get them: https://www.ourgreenstory.com
5. Natural/Durable/Recycled Materials
Sometimes you won't be able to use a fountain pen, or you won't find a second-hand notebook. In these cases, makes sure you purchase items that are either made from natural, durable or recycled materials.
Pilot B2P (I have personally purchased these pens and use them on the daily)
Sprout World you can plant the pencil at the end of its useful life and a herb will grow! (I have purchased from them, and have been loving their pencils)
Some retailers with sustainable options:
Paperchase (UK) (I have purchased their recycled notebooks, and recycled highlighters)
Package Free Store (USA) (use 10$ off, affiliate)
A Good Company (Sweden)
Buy Eco Green (Australia)
Earth Hero (USA)
(check out more on the individual Brand per Country directory)
6. Dispose Responsibly
So, SO, important. Most conventional supplies can't be recycled through the conventional recycling stream because of how complicated it is to take the different components apart. For example, a binder is made with cardboard, plastic, paper and metal, is your local recycling doesn't have the proper technology to recycle it. You can use Terracycle (you can use their website to find solutions near you) to recycle any supplies that have come to the end of their useful lives.
If your supplies are still in great condition and you no longer need them, consider donating them to a second-hand shop or give them to children in need.
Bottles, lunchboxes, straws, whatever you use on the daily remember to bring your reusable version to school/uni/work to reduce your waste.
Some more brand suggestions:
Eco-friendly casual wear: Green Spirits (my brand) use code THANKYOU for 10% off
Vegan Backpacks: La Bante (affiliate)
Portable Chargers: Nimble (affiliate)
Compostable Cases: Pela (affiliate)