It's that time of year again, and as students gear up to head back to the classroom, SWACO is calling on families to embrace sustainable practices and adopt a waste-conscious mindset when it comes to back-to-school preparations. Not only do efforts to go green have a positive impact on the environment, but there’s also an added bonus: saving money! According to a 2023 Statista survey, families are expecting to spend over $800 on school supplies. But don’t worry! We’ve gathered a range of tips and tricks that will help you reduce your carbon footprint and keep those hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
As you prepare the supplies list, we urge you to take inventory and consider reusing items from the previous year whenever possible. It can be a thrill to buy new items, but it is better for your wallet and the environment to reuse what you already have on hand like 3-ring binders, rulers, pencil boxes, etc. If you do need to purchase new items, look for sustainable options like recycled paper and notebooks and try to avoid supplies with unnecessary packaging. And remember to recycle any cardboard or paper packaging (think shoeboxes!) in a curbside or drop-off recycling container.
Buy secondhand and donate what is no longer needed:
Back-to-school clothes shopping can be especially draining on the wallet, so why not check out secondhand retailers? Central Ohio is home to many resale shops and can offer an affordable and sustainable way to update wardrobes and even athletic supplies.
It’s estimated that central Ohio landfills over 80,000 tons of textile waste annually. If last year’s clothes and gear no longer fit, consider donating, taking them to a consignment store or participating in back-to-school drives to help reduce textile waste.
Embrace refurbished tech:
Purchasing tech essentials for students each year can be overwhelming. This year, opt for refurbished electronics. Local stores like Columbus Micro Systems, Sage Sustainable Electronics and MicroCenter offer refurbished purchasing options, helping you save a significant amount of money and also reducing electronic waste (e-waste), one of the fastest-growing waste contributors.
Because it contains hazardous and flammable materials, e-waste (including batteries) can pose a serious risk to the environment and waste workers. If donation is not an option, these items should be recycled through participating partners or through household hazardous waste programs.
Pack to prevent waste:
When packing lunches this year, cut down on waste by using reusable lunchboxes, containers and water bottles. You can even pack reusable or biodegradable utensils. But waste reduction doesn’t need to stop there. Reduce packaging waste by avoiding pre-packaged food and encourage your child to bring leftovers home, for tomorrow’s lunch or for composting.
Food waste is the single biggest item entering the landfill. Families can reduce their food waste and stretch their dollars by visiting our Food Waste Prevention Hub and utilizing resources like our Food Storage Guide.
Commute with an eco-friendly footprint:
When it comes to the daily commute, explore options like biking or walking to school. For those who may be too young to travel alone, consider organizing a group with rotating parent chaperones. Families that live further out can set up a neighborhood carpool to reduce emissions. These options are a great way to save on gas and foster a sense of community!
Use these eco-friendly tips throughout the school year to live green and save green. Together, we can make this academic year one that not only nourishes young minds but our planet too, for generations to come.