1. Raid Last Year’s Gear. If you’re anything like us, you probably did a quick mental inventory of last year¹s leftover school supplies the minute the school year was done. Now’s the time to revisit that inventory and get started on patching up old backpacks, sharpening scissors, cleaning glue bottles of any dried residue, and testing all of the writing utensils you already own so you can avoid buying new ones.
2. Host A Back-To-School Swap Party. Last year’s backpack might not be exciting for your kids, but if they¹re given the chance to change it up and use a backpack that¹s new to them, they might be more inclined to reuse! The same goes for any clothes, especially ones that are still in great shape but have just been grown out of. And of course, don’t forget that after-school activity supplies can also be swapped, from sports gear to instruments!
3. Buy Lasting Supplies. If last year’s stuff doesn't make the cut, take this chance to plan for years ahead. Opt for durable backpacks, refillable pens, and mechanical pencils, so that when next year rolls around, you're already prepared, and nothing goes to waste!
4. Buy School Supplies In Bulk. For less reusable supplies (think paper, notebooks), some schools allow you to pool your money and order all together, which can cut down on packaging waste. And if your school doesn¹t offer something like this, you can still go the bulk route with a few friends, or buy in bulk and save for the years to come!
5. Reuse Paper From Years Past. It’s important to save those A+ book reports, but for those less-important papers, try repurposing them into a new book for scrap paper: You¹re bound to have a good amount of paper that¹s only been printed on one side, and a pad made up of blank backs of paper is great for grocery lists and the like.
6. Go Digital (When Possible). With today’s technology, you can get practically any book you want on your reading device of choice. Textbooks might be a stretch, as your school will ultimately decide whether or not your student can use a digital version, but for any other book you¹re asked to pick up on your own, you should definitely consider digital versions. Some are even available via apps, no separate reading device necessary!
7. Limit Your Printing. Keeping track of all your printing and making the call to not print certain things is almost as important as reusing paper from last year or going digital. Better yet, combine all 3 of these tips by printing on the backs of old papers for less important documents and choose digital versions to reference what you need on a reading tablet or laptop (when allowed) to avoid excess printing.
8. Pack Smart Lunches. Choosing reusable lunch boxes doesn’t only reduce waste (especially if your alternative is brown bagging it); insulated options can also keep your food nice and cool until lunchtime. As for what goes inside the box, opt for reusable sandwich bags or containers and real utensils to make sure nothing gets sent to a landfill.
9. Snack Smart. Cutting down on waste while you eat is not only reserved for lunch. Buy snacks in bulk (less packaging) and pack them up in your own containers or snack bags (like those you could use for lunch) to quell hunger while you're on the go for after-school activities.
10. Make Recycling A Part Of Your Routine. Does your child¹s school recycle? If so, encourage your child to hit the right bins with the right trash every day. No recycling program at the school? No problem. Let the waste come back home for sorting, or try asking your school to start a program and see what you can do to get involved and help out.
Information from Recyclebank, an incentives-based recycling company (www.recyclebank.com). For other tips on reducing waste and recycling, visit their website.