Sustainable Back-to-School Guide

Back-to-school shopping is something nearly every family does as they prepare for the upcoming school year. However, many stores market single-use items as essential, and lots of waste is created. Below we offer some tips and suggestions on how to make your shopping list more sustainable:

Before heading to the store, consider what you already have at home.

Reusing school supplies from the year before is a great way to not only save yourself some cash but to prevent supplies that can still be used from ending up in the landfill. As you take inventory, consider which items were most durable and brainstorm alternatives this go around for items that only lasted one year. 

Common items that can be reused:

  • Scissors
  • Pens, highlighters, and pencils (especially mechanical pencils that only need replacement lead)
  • Art supplies
  • Fabric items (pencil pouches, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc.)

Shop second-hand for gently used or vintage backpacks and lunchboxes. 
Thrifting is a great way to give new life to something used. Many backpacks can be washed in the washing machine in a laundry bag or pillowcase using these instructions:


You can also personalize your new-to-you backpack by adding patches and/or pins. 

If you are going to purchase a new backpack, check out these options that are sustainably made and high-quality that will last many years to come.

While the initial investment may be slightly more costly, these backpacks are durable and timeless.

These lunch box options are also long-lasting.

The containers and utensils you use to pack lunches can make a difference too!

One idea is to purchase reusable containers and water bottles. This drastically reduces plastic waste by eliminating the need for single-use baggies and bottles. Glass containers are a great investment for older kids and adults because they can withstand microwaving, are dishwasher safe, won't stain, and last longer overall. Also, try to buy in bulk and avoid single-serving packaging that produces more waste.

Lastly, check out these local second-hand clothing stores and affordable B corps.

Local Second-Hand Stores:

Affordable Ethical Brands:



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