Make Back to School Eco-Friendly

Posted by Dawn Hessel on

Creating an eco-friendly school experience is an uphill battle filled with paper, plastic, disposables, and consumables.  This will be the 5th year I have had to buy school supplies and the 5th year I have had to find alternatives to buying everything new each year.



When I first review the list each year, I pull out all the old school supplies I put away for the summer.  Before I go out and buy anything new, I check to see what is in reusable condition from the previous year.  Plastic folders have stickers removed, crayons are put in a new container to reuse, markers are reused as long as they still work, notebooks have used paper torn out of them if they are less than 1/4-1/3 used. Scissors, erasers, and pencil pouches, all reused from the previous year (unless your child lets crayons get hot and melt in said pencil pouch...  ya, that totally happened two years ago.  Sadly, that pouch wasn't saveable.)  Bonus if your child comes home with pencils in good shape!  Those get resharpened and reused as well!

Backpacks, lunch boxes, reusable lunch containers, stainless steel water bottles, all are reused from the previous year.  

reusable school lunch containers


Here are some of my favorite reusable items!

Reusable snack/sandwich bags  - From Huckleberry Creek

Collapsable silicone food storage containers - From Mighty Nest

Stainless Steel containers with silicone lids - From Eco Lunch Boxes


Any items that cannot be reused, is recycled if possible.  Paper folders have the progs removed and paper notebooks are either composted or recycled. Old crayons of ours get tossed in a tub.  Once I collect enough, the labels are removed and they are either melted down into new crayons or the melted wax is poured over dryer lint in a cardboard egg carton to create fire starters! 


I just recently found out Crayola has a program called Colorcycle.  Crayola will accept back ANY brand of used marker to recycle it!  I hope to be able to set a program up with my own kids' school this coming school year.  If this is not already offered at your school, here is the link for more info!
Having to replace school supplies gets a little bit trickier.  Sometimes thrift shops will have school supplies, but mine never seem to have what I need. Instead, when I buy items, I look at their useful life, what is more likely to be reusable or recyclable in the future or what is sustainably produced. 
Paper folders would be a better choice over plastic folders if your school allows. 
Brandless offers several sustainable options such as bamboo paper towels, as well as offers notebooks that are created from paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)  and pencils and colored pencils created from wood certified by the FSC. 
Let's make it goal to work together to reduce the tons of waste our kids produce every year. 
Happy school supply gathering!

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.