Family tips

All you need for a low-waste return to school

Béatrice blogger for Cascades Fluff & Tuff  Béatrice Bernard Poulin | Béatrice  

 

Ah, the back-to-school season! Some await it with joy, while others ... not so much!

For students, there's always a long list of things they need to buy in August. The bill adds up quickly – and so can the amount of new supplies, packaging, and disposable junk!

But there are simple ways to prepare your back-to-school supplies with less waste.

From recycled products that are easier than ever to find, to second-hand items and packed lunches: There are 1001 ways to reduce both the costs and the environmental footprint of going back to school – for adults or kids.

Here are a few ideas.

Reusing

Naturally, one suggestion is to reuse supplies from the year before! From pencils to schoolbags to notebooks and more, there are so many that can be used for longer than just one year.

Yes, it's exciting (especially for kids) to get new supplies, so mixing together new and old things can put a smile on their face while also giving your wallet (and the planet) some relief.

You can also liven up an old schoolbag or backpack by adding a few fun stickers or drawings. You can even invite the kids to join in!

If you want to get a bit cute (!), you can always offer your children some products that are new ... to them! Trade with other parents or swap supplies between your kids, if you have more than one. Like new, but better – and they don't have to know the secret!

Used schoolbooks

The further we go in our studies, the more books need to be purchased. Fortunately, some schools help students sell their old books to new students by putting them in touch with each other. This allows former students to recover part of their investment while giving new ones a chance to pay less. And of course, it means less paper! Win-win!

If this isn't a possibility, it may be helpful to check the classified ads or second-hand bookstores.

Computer hardware

Computer hardware is increasingly important at school, even for the very young.

Some companies and stores carry refurbished hardware, meaning that it was returned for one reason or another, then fixed up like new and sold at a lower price than the standard product. But the quality is the same! What's more, you're helping to keep products out of the dump while they can still be used.

Last year, I made a big discovery: The Montréal-based social integration company Insertech, which gives a second life to computer hardware while helping young unemployed people return to the labour market.

You can also check offers in the classified ads to find used electronic devices before heading to the store.

Lunches

What's lunch doing in a post about ecological products for the new school year?

There are two main reasons to think about it. The first is that eating in the school cafeteria or a restaurant can be expensive and cause more waste due to excess packaging. Making your own lunch more often is a good habit to get into!

When you do, consider using as many reusable containers as possible, including utensils, so you don't need to include disposable ones. And while you're at it, add a recycled paper towel for accidents – because some people tend to take 26 napkins when a little spill occurs and a stack of them sits close by. Have you been there?

Don't forget your canteen!

Ecological products 

Last of all, we have to mention the large number of ecological products now on the market. Opt for recycled paper (both ruled and for the printer), as well as notebooks made from it.

Whenever possible, choose products like backpacks that were made locally from recycled materials.

There you have it, you're ready to go back to school!

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