5 Tips for Back-to-School Sustainability
By: Caroline Maher
As the remaining summer weeks come to a close, students will soon be hitting store shelves and stockpiling on back-to-school necessities. For many students, shopping for new pens, notebooks, and clothes is a much-anticipated end-of-summer ritual. Not to mention, Target, Wal-Mart, and other big-name retailers are notorious for having a surplus of discounted back-to-school items. Although it may be tempting to indulge in these sales, it might be worth considering whether the products you are looking to purchase are sustainable.
As consumerism sores, it leaves a major environmental footprint. Many of the products on the shelves at your favorite retailer lack durability and are cheaply made, often with plastic and other non-biodegradable materials. After these products are used and thrown out, they end up polluting our oceans and landfills, as they are unable to decompose.
The good news is there are sustainable ways of shopping for the new school year ahead.
Buy reused or recycled goods
When checking off items on your shopping list this season, consider buying reused or recycled products. There are tons of eco-friendly products on the market made from recycled materials, like notebooks, sneakers, and backpacks. Also consider shopping for products that you can reuse or recycle, such as refillable pens or biodegradable pencil pouches.
Take note of what you already have
Before going out and purchasing bulk items, like pens, notebooks, and folders, do a quick inventory of what you already have and can still make use of. Each year, billions of pens and pencils are thrown away, adding to the ongoing environmental crisis – so be sure to use your school supplies to their full extent before going out and purchasing more.
Practice sustainable shopping
For many, back-to-school shopping also consists of new wardrobe additions. Although certain retailers are known for their affordable, trendy pieces, try to avoid shopping at stores that promote fast fashion. The emergence of fast fashion and trendy pieces is a leading cause of the depletion of non-renewable sources and the emission of greenhouse gases. Consider buying from stores that reuse materials, like Baggu, Buffalo Exchange, or Poshmark.
Do your research
As sustainable shopping methods have become more apparent in recent years, so has the stigma that eco-friendly options come at a high price. Thankfully, many brands have taken action in creating more sustainable alternatives to their products, while keeping cost in mind. Etsy is one e-commerce website that offers affordable, eco-friendly products at a super reasonable price.
If buying online isn’t your go-to, then consider researching what materials the items on your back-to-school shopping list include and if your favorite retailer offers any eco-friendly options.
Go green year-round
Going green as often as possible can make a huge, positive impact on the environment. Here are some sustainable tips to practice all year long:
- Take notes electronically
- When using a notebook, write on both sides of the paper
- Use a refillable coffee cup
- Recycle paper and cardboard items
- Donate your used goods