Back to School in SUSTAINABLE Style | zero waste tips & supplies



If you’re looking for the most sustainable school supplies on the market, I got you! Fill your back to school bag with these swaps from Earth Hero, …

48 Comments

  1. Do you think you could made a zero waste vid on disabled needs? I have to use plastic straws because they are the only ones that are posable and stay that way when I'm lying down but I also use splints and braces that have a lot of plastic and metal in them as well as a cane that's metal and plastic

  2. These are great tips for the office as well. Instead of ordering new pens, pencils, and notebooks I use what I have. Idk how I managed to accumulate all these things, but I’m using them for work. I also gave away some pens to friends, family, and a local business I work for because I do many pens accumulated on my desk.

  3. Goodwill also always sells backpacks near the beginning of the school year, because they get donated a lot as kids get new ones!! My old backpack is 6 years old & beat to hell, I just got a "new" one at Goodwill the other day!!

  4. High School was so cheap (in the uk) all you needed was a pen, pencil and ruler which you could buy at school for 10p each
    The only expensive side was the uniform I guess but if your family didn’t have much money the government gave the parents money for school uniforms

  5. I never used notebooks in school, I just had one binder throughout my school years, with dividers for every class. That way I only used the paper I really needed instead of using up an entire notebook for like 20 pages and could just switch out the classes when I needed to, I even had a separate binder at home to save all my notes in. I also had the type of binder with a plastic pocket thing on the front and back so I could print out pictures or text and switch the cover to whatever I wanted! If you get a good quality binder you’ll never need to purchase another one, and if you get the ones with the plastic pockets you can switch the look of it like I did if that’s something that’s important to you.
    In Finland we get free school supplies, one notebook per class, a pencil, pen, sharpener, eraser, ruler etc. at the start of every school year. All the school books are also free and they are reused year after year until they are either falling apart or the material is updated. And in case you ever forgot something, there are always pencils, erasers, pens, rulers and paper for you to borrow during class and give back to the teacher after. I think it’s a great practice for equality within our education system but it can be very wasteful, I did know a couple kids who did just have those free things at their disposal but most kids had their own supplies. I think the recycling box you talked about would be useful here for kids to put their free supplies into since the teachers are obligated to hand them out whether the kids need them or not.

  6. I also pick up hair ties and pencils off of the ground! In high school I learned to bring my trash and any cans, bottles, paper, food scraps, etc. home since the recycling bins were actually dumped in the dumpsters and there was no compost system. Now that I'm in college, I hold onto things until I can find the recycling bin or compost receptacle. I often find my school supplies at goodwill and just reuse pencils and pens from years ago. I was given a fountain pen but it's antique and more valuable so I only use it at home and don't carry it around with me; I think I'll have to buy a new, cheaper one when I run out of pens (which won't be anytime soon).

  7. I'm not going back to school this year but this is a great idea for a video! As I just finished up my program I gathered up all the school supplies I knew I wouldn't use and posted them for free on the Facebook marketplace so the stuff would be reused and wouldn't go into the landfill. I think the most important part is reusing what you have and not falling into the trap of all the cheap back to school sales, etc.

  8. Something that people don’t usually think about but will really decrease your environmental footprint and save you a ton of money is using the backside of papers that are handed out in class and from recycling bins at school. You’d be surprised at how much paper goes to waste in schools! Now I print all my essays/projects on the backside of scrap paper and I take all my notes and do all my homework on scrap paper as well. I haven’t used any new paper in years now and it makes me feel so much better knowing that I’m saving so much perfectly good paper from going to waste.

  9. I have a question for you. I live in a small, rural Texas town. Trash pickup is optional and most people burn their trash. We have no recycling options anymore. Waste Management stopped recycling pickup in our area, citing the lack of buyers for the recycling products. Zero waste is not an option. We have an H-E-B, but it’s very small and there’s no bulk items. I reuse everything I can, but what about the rest? Is it better to put everything out for trash pickup or should I burn it? What is the better choice for the environment??

  10. My parents sold used electronics waaaay back on old school ebay… back in the 90s, uploading a single picture would take several different devices. There has never been a shortage of perfectly useful electronics, and older models hold up longer. I still use an iPhone 5 that was cracked when I got it pre-owned two years ago. There is masking tape on the keyboard of my three year old laptop. I don't plan on replacing either until they stop functioning. And my favorite place to get headphones is on the ground/goodwill outlet bins. Wipe them down with some alcohol, good as new.
    Most of my non-food purchases are from thrift stores, including my backpack. It's just Target brand, but it's lasted over three years of continuous use as a daypack (and this summer as a camp counselor, where it's on my back aaaalll day). Sometimes, what looks like low quality lasts, but it is best to get it used to avoid supporting those brands.

  11. My son is autistic so we try to keep screen time low. Instead we go to used bookstores for his reading requirements. Letgo is really great from reusing textbooks. Dont write in them so you can place it on letgo again. Also if in NYC cwpencilenterprise sell pencils made of recycled newspaper and other sustainable school supplies

  12. I’m going back to school this year (5 years after graduating from my Bachelor’s!). Last Christmas my mom gave me a couple reusable pens, a refillable Filofax notebook, a refillable Planner. And I had a larger refillable Bluelinr notebook from my old job. And I recently discovered Poshmark where I just bought a backpack second hand. They might not be the most sustainable brands, but I feel it’s better to refill things than to keep buying more pens or notebooks made of plastic. 🙂

  13. Personally I try to reuse pens and pencils because we bought bulk years ago and they’re sometimes lost but we still have them so why go buy new ones? Also meal prepping is a good way not only to save the environment but also your wallet

  14. My son started kindergarten today and he had a huge list of supplies. All parents had to bring the supplies in last week on Meet the Teacher day. No way getting out of that lol.

  15. The list of stuff they give you in school is rediculus and way beyond actual needs. I passed my school supplies on my little nephew , who just got started. And it included things I have got from my Cousin who finished school 5 years before me. She couldn´t use it up, I couldn´t use it up and my nephew will probably not make it as well ! In the same time I hear about famillys saving money in advance to be able to pay for the stuff on the list. Teachers are mocking on kids if they don´t have everything from the stupid list . Insanity! I very much hope it´s only in my country, Germany.
    Thank you for your impact Shelbi! <3

  16. Also for backpacks, I snagged a Patagonia backpack from REI during a fall/winter sale they were having last fall, bc my field backpack that I take into the field was too big and I needed something smaller but that was still sturdy enough to hold all my tools, gear, lunch and water bladder, and that has been a lifesaver. I feel like I’m never gonna have to get another backpack. I plan to use it if I ever go back to grad school and when I’m not in the field, I’ll just wash it and use it like a normal backpack. I know Patagonia is expensive but look for sales, or people reselling them online!! And they have a “worn wear” part of their website where they resell used (but in good condition) Patagonia gear and sometimes there are backpacks and side sling backpacks on there!! I just love how transparent and committed Patagonia is. They really want their products to last. We need more companies like that.

  17. Omg what would we do without you. I have been looking for a sustainable pen option but wasn’t able to find one before I needed more pens STAT 😔 so I bought more plastic, but next time I’m getting refillable for sureee. Those terracycle recycling things sound awesome too! I’m totally gonna look into that in case I have a job in the future that doesn’t recycle!!!

  18. Ever heard about Bambook? (There are other brands that make this now too.) It's basically a whiteboard, but in notebook form. You can use it and then scan or type your notes after using it.

  19. When I was in elementary school we always used wallpaper paste as glue! It's a powder that is sold in cardboard boxes and you just mix it with water in a jar. You apply it with a small paint brush. And when you are finished you just wash your brush with water, put the lid on the jar and store it until next time. In our classroom there was a shelf for those glue jars so we didn't have to take our glue to school every day.

    I always collect pens, notebooks, folders, binders, rulers etc. from friends and family who don't need them anymore. That is my stationary stash for my kids. Last week my youngest needed a triangle protractor and a pair of compasses. So I asked my sister who actually still had those ten years after leaving college and never using them. It made us both very happy!

    I donate or sell what my kids don't need anymore.

    And we never buy clothes or backpacks just because it's a new school year. We just use what we have. And since we have real seasons here in Germany we try to expand the lifespans of shoes and clothes to the end of the season and buy new stuff next year when we really need it because the kids just grow so fast. And then we buy most things second hand. And I sew a lot of clothes. But not from new fabric. I use old clothes from my husband, myself or my sister.

  20. It's really crazy what schools ask for, I thought that the older I'd get, I wouldn't need that much stuff like pens and special coloured markers or whatever.
    Then every teacher I had suddenly decided they didn't really like the textbooks that we bought at the beginning of the year and demanded that we buy another book for grammar or training etc. It was the most annoying thing, and we ended up not even using them that much, they could have easily just printed the 10 pages instead of having everyone buy a brand new book. Also the books mostly had the same content as the ones we already had, just slightly different and the teachers were just too lazy have a proper look through them.
    I'm now in University, and they gave us all the textbooks as a pdf haha

  21. I just went and ordered all my school supplies on earth hero (and used your code ofc) !!! I wanted to get sustainable school products but didn't know where to look. Thank you so much!

  22. I'll throw in some suggestions to make it truly zero waste. Rhodia a4 pads. The regular variety. It comes in dot grid, graph and lines and pre punched. They never come wrapped in plastic. As for writing supplies, use what you have, you always have left over but if you are just venturing into high school, here's a suggestion, buy a bottle of Platinum Black and pick up a Platinum Plasir and a few backup preppies. Goulet Pens offers these. And they will walk you through a sustainable inexpensive fountain pen experience. If your kiddo doesn't like to venture into fountain pens, I suggest the j herbin refillable rollerball available at cultpens.com which is now 10% off. Dont forget to pick up a converter and a bottle of ink!.

  23. I'm a teacher and I'm looking for ways to be sustainable yet affordable in the classroom. I have purchased a Terracycle box for pens, marks and mechanical pencils and I tell my coworkers I recycle these items, especially towards the end of year when teachers are cleaning their rooms. Most of my students are low income and won't be able to pay for their own supplies so purchasing from these brands is not doable for them. The school doesn't have a recycling program 🙁 but I plan on just recycling in my classroom and taking care of it myself.

  24. also, my college last semester built new trash bins to put throughout the entire campus. they have different slots for trash, composting, and recycling, with descriptions and pictures of what products go where. the compost is then used for the horticulture program. while my school only has a little over 1000 students, that’s still such a huge step for my area because i live in a place where saving the planet isn’t most people’s top priority

  25. this summer i was a camp counselor for Kindergarten and first graders. this one girl had a lunchbox called Planet Box and it was the coolest thing! it was eco friendly because it was made of stainless steel, and while it was just an insert to hold all her food without packaging, it came with a fabric lunchbox to store it in.

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