The summer holidays are drawing to close which can mean only one thing – its time for the kids to go back to school! At this time of the year, parents are often found wandering around supermarkets, with endless stationary lists, purchasing many new school items for their little ones. Lots of these items are unfortunately made of plastics or come in unnecessary packaging and most of them end up in the bin at the end of the year, generating a huge amount of waste.
In today’s post, we share some green back to school tips on how to remain eco-friendly whilst preparing your kids for a successful school year.
Before purchasing any back to school items, look at what you already have. Pencil cases, backpacks and even dividers, binders or plastic pockets can easily be reused for another year. If you have work books which are still half empty, you can use them for rough paper instead of putting them in the bin.
Buy eco-friendly school items
For the items that you still need to purchase, make sure you go for the most eco-friendly option. Check out second hand stores and websites, where there will be plenty of options to buy supplies such as calculators, stationary or school books. You could also organise a community swap at your local school, which is a good way of helping the environment while saving money and getting to know other school parents at the same time.
Recycle with TerraCycle
TerraCycle offers a range of programmes to recycle hard to recycle waste. Amongst school children, the Writing Instruments Recycling Programme sponsored by BIC is very popular, along with the the EllaCycle programme, to recycle baby food pouches and the Cracker and Biscuit Wrappers Recycling Programme in partnership with McVitie’s, Carr’s, Go Ahead and Jacob’s.
If your kids’ school has not signed up to TerraCycle yet, maybe talk to the teachers or administrators and encourage them to take part. If this is easier, you can also get involved through the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Any school can sign up to the TerraCycle programmes and collect waste for free. In exchange, they will receive charity points that they will be able to redeem into donations for the school or a charity of their choice. The recycling fundraising schemes are an easy and practical way to teach children the importance of recycling and sustainability.
You can also recycle your stationary via TerraCycle’s paid for Zero Waste Box solution. All you need to do is to purchase the box and fill it up and then arrange for the free pick up to send it back to us. TerraCycle then recycles the waste. We offer a Zero Waste Box solution for binders or books, magazines and notebooks and arts and craft waste.
If you still need to buy new items, make sure they are durable. Try to avoid plastics and unnecessary packaging and purchase supplies which are recycled, such as recycled notebooks, or reusable, like refillable pens where possible. Head to your local stationery shop instead of big busy supermarkets, where you will be able to buy just the right amount of what you need, rather than a whole package of red pens when you only want one.
Pack a plastic free lunch
Swop plastic foil, which is not recyclable, for reusable beeswax wraps, which you can purchase online or are easy to make yourself. Put together a zero-waste kit with glass or stainless boxes and reusable cutlery.
If you have time, prepare some homemade snacks, which are healthier, cheaper and more eco-friendly than the industrial alternatives. To help you, Kathryn, the blogger behind the blog Going Zero Waste shares a few easy recipes to make you package free snacks. You can even prepare them with your children, who we’re sure will be delighted to help out!
Teach your kids about sustainability
The back to school period is a good time to teach your kids the importance of sustainability. If possible talk to the teachers and administrators of the school, to brainstorm on how to raise awareness about waste and recycling.
Why not organise some upcycling DIY workshops to show children that waste can have a second life? Another option is to plan a school trip to a local recycling sorting facility in order to help them to understand where the waste goes and how it gets sorted. It could also be good to explain to your little ones what kind of waste is recyclable, to turn them into recycling experts. They are tomorrow’s adults, so it is crucial that they become aware of the environmental challenges that we are facing!
Best of luck with this new school year! We hope these tips will be helpful, and if you have more advise on how to be sustainable at school please let us know, we would love to hear from you!