As the days get greyer and copper hues begin to spread through the trees, the smell of newly sharpened pencils fills the air as the kids return to school (at last). The world is a constantly changing place and for many of our young people, schooling has been disrupted over and over again. While the world still looks a little odd, we can all hope that the 2021 - 2022 school years comes without the words ‘virtual learning’.
Preparing to go back to school can be costly. Between school uniforms (and we all wait with bated breath for Parliament to pass the Affordable Uniform Act!) and new school supplies, it can feel expensive and a little wasteful at times. For those of us wanting to ensure a future planet for the next generation to live on, there are ways we can bring eco friendly purchases into the back to school shop while also beginning conversations about why the environment matters so much to our future climate activists.
We’ve got some back to school tips on how you can bring in eco friendly choices to the return to school. We aren’t affiliated with the below brands in any way, we just love what they do.
One of the most eco-friendly and cost-effective things you can do is to take stock of what you already have. Take a stock of what you already have in the house before you go out and buy from new when it comes to stationary.
The other thing is uniform - growth spurts can't be helped, but have your kids try on what they already have before going out and buying new.
Speaking of uniforms, the trickiest part of the return to school! If you need to buy new uniforms, try and buy second-hand where you can, the environmental cost of clothing is high. If you need branded uniform items, many schools will run second-hand shops that are worth using or get in touch with the parent network to see if you can take some hand-me-downs.
If you're looking for second-hand trainers or PE kit that doesn't have to be branded, try Vinted - they have so many options that can help save you money and help the planet. Trainer manufacturing is terrible for the environment - most of them are made of plastic and aren't in any way recyclable. According to Climate Scientist, Angela Terry, 'Trainers cause 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To put that into context, aviation causes 2.5%'
If you can’t get second hand and you are worried about the environmental impact of clothing, while buying from new isn’t always ideal, with school uniform your kids get excellent wear out of their clothes. Fast fashion is a major problem when something is bought, worn a few times and thrown away. With uniforms, they’re generally worn until they're coming apart at the seams or full of holes thanks to scraped knees.
If your kids have worn out of the clothes, consider donating them before chucking them away, this will make a huge difference.
Every parent battles with their kids to get them to eat the right things and drink enough water. Even as adults, we’ve found that having a water bottle we love keeps us motivated to drink more and with a reusable water bottle, we’re eliminating plastic bottles and cups in an easy, simple swap.
Chilly's stainless steel water bottles are all the rage, we love this Rainbow Galore design for a cheerful and fun design for the school backpacks. The best thing about Chilly bottles is that, with the tight screw top, we’re less likely to have leaks - no one likes a soggy textbook!
Image Credit: Chilly
Where possible, try and go plastic free in your packed lunches. By using non toxic reusable sandwich bags and bamboo fibre lunch boxes, you can reduce the single-use plastics in your life and save yourself money in the long run.
Image Credit: WEarth
If you want an all-in-one option, we love this reusable lunch box and straw combo made from recycled materials that are sustainably sourced. The 'Chowie' lunchbox is non toxic and made entirely of recyclable wheat fibre and comes with a fork and spoon in a container that is entirely reusable.
The Shlurpie straw is collapsible so it's easy to carry in a full backpack and is made of stainless steel and packaged in sustainable materials.
Image Credit: WEarth
The School Run
It’s not always easy but where possible, try and green-up your commute. Whether that’s getting on your bikes, taking the time to walk or using public transport to get to school. We all know the ways the roads can clog up around the school gates, being held up in traffic with engines running can't be good for the planet.
When looking for eco-friendly school supplies, there are lots of places to find beautiful, reusable items to stock pencil cases. The trick is, how to find plastic free options.
We go straight to VENT for Change who are a UK based sustainable stationary company that creates high quality stationary made of recycled materials. Most importantly, 10% of all sales are donated to Plan International who funds children's education projects around the world. What a brilliant way to explain to your kids the way that our purchasing habits can do good for the planet and for others.
Image Credit: Vent for Change
We love these 'Notes' Recycled Pencils - they're made from recycled CD cases and, by foregoing traditional wooden pencils, we help to save trees and combat deforestation.
And their pens are made from single use plastic drinks bottles that are then entirely recyclable at the end of their life for an environmentally friendly way to finish essays!
If you're looking for a way to drum up excitement about going back to school, why not wrap your new school supplies in eco friendly gift wrap? Everyone loves a gift!
We love our Stars at Dusk wrap for eco friendly school supplies, reminding our young ones to shoot for the moon with their learning and future.
Our wrapping paper is made with beautiful, exclusive designs using paper created from recycled materials that is then entirely recyclable once used. We use vegetable ink meaning our paper is free of crude oils and entirely vegan. Unlike other wrapping papers, we are a zero plastic product and made from top to toe in the UK.