Back to school is always my favorite shopping time of the year because who doesn’t love buying new school supplies? This year, I am going to try to buy as little as possible and instead reuse my supplies from last year. I mean, who needs a new pack of pens or pencils when you already have ones that work perfectly well from last school year? Why buy a notebook if you are only going to use the first ten pages and then switch to your laptop to type up class notes?
With our discussions of reducing waste, reusing certain items, and recycling things we cannot use any longer, have you ever thought about how many school supplies get thrown away or not used at all?
For this upcoming school year, I am going to be using the same backpack I have had for the past 4 years. I am also going to reuse my binders for different classes—all you really have to do is remove your old classwork—and avoid buying any notebooks. Instead, I am going to type up my notes for my classes this year. Along with that, it also means I don’t have to worry about buying new pens, pencils, highlighters, or sharpies…I already have them!
No matter what year of school you are starting, there are so many supplies that we can reuse from last year instead of buying new ones. For example, your book bag, lunch bag, pencil pouch, binders, pencils/ crayons (just sharpen them), scissors, and even clothes. Green School Initiatives have some excellent statistics on supplies: Did you know that “14 billion pencils are produced every year, many made with wood from ancient forests. Americans use about 31.5 million tons of printing and writing paper each year, requiring 535 million trees (most from virgin tree fiber) and 12 billion gallons of oil to make. The average American consumes about 660 pounds of paper per year, compared to 550 pounds in Japan and only about 8.8 pounds in India.” They also estimate that “400 million used whiteboard markers -- that's 25,000 tons -- are thrown out in U.S. schools every year, ending up in landfills.” Imagine how many trees we could save by reusing our old supplies and not overbuying when we shop for school supplies.
For further information, the following websites have some great tips on how to shop green for your back to school needs. And remember the wise words of the Lorax, “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.”
8 Ways to Green Back to School (green habits for you and your whole family)
Eco-friendly Ways to Prepare for School (slideshow of tips)
-Photo Credit: Michelle Maritz
-Written by: Jeshica P.