Back To School: How to be more sustainable this school year

For many people, August means that it’s time to dig out the pens and pencils and head back to school. Whether you’re a student heading off to college, or a parent driving your kids to school every day, there are ways you can be more sustainable this school year. Read on to learn how you can make more environmentally conscious choices this school year, no matter what age you are. 

As a college student:


If this is your first time living away from home, you may be new to recycling. It can be confusing, especially if you’re living in a new city or state, to learn how to do it right. 

Many colleges have a sustainability office. You can go to this free resource to learn about how to recycle both on campus, and in your new city.

If you’re living off-campus, recycling might be tricky. Maybe your apartment building doesn’t offer it as a service, or you may have to learn how recycling pick-ups work in your rented house. If your apartment doesn’t offer recycling, there are local drop-offs you can bring your items to. If you’re living in a house, your landlord should be able to tell you how the recycling works on their property.

Rent your textbooks

Not only will renting your textbooks save you money, but you’ll also be doing the earth a favor. For most course material, you won’t look at the book after you’ve taken the final exam. So, after you’re done studying, you can just turn in your book. 

If the format of your textbook doesn’t particularly matter to you, you could also opt for  a digital copy of the textbook. An added benefit to the digital copy is that you’ll then be able to use a search bar to scan the book for a phrase or word you’re looking for.

Be involved

As a college student, there are many options to help charitable cases. You can make one of yours good for the planet. There are groups committed to climate change education, recycling, litter cleanup, or anything else you can think of. If there’s not a group for the cause you care about, then start it!

Once you’re in college, you’re likely of age to vote in local and national elections. So, read up on the issues so you know how you can use your vote to support the environment

As a parent:


When your kids are in school, there are likely hundreds of families with kids going to the same school. So, even if there isn’t a bus that comes by your house, there are still options. Coordinate a carpool with other families in your neighborhood. Then, you won’t be the only one driving every day, and there will be a little less carbon emissions going into the atmosphere.

Pack sustainable lunches

If your kids are lucky enough to have you packing their lunches for them, then it falls on you as a parent to ensure you’re using sustainable practices. First, make sure you have reusable containers to pack food in, as well as a reusable lunch box or lunch bag. This will help ensure you’re cutting out unnecessary plastic and paper.

Consider Meatless Mondays for you and your family. Doing so helps both your personal health, as well as the health of the planet (1). The campaign’s website has plenty of ideas for you to start off this movement yourself.

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