Back to school – the zero Waste way!

The summer holidays are coming to an end and children will soon be back to school.

I remember traipsing around town during the holidays with my Mum getting new uniform, stationery supplies and books.

I LOVED it! But thinking back, it was probably pretty wasteful – what with clamshell packaging for stationery, clothes I probably didn’t really need and a new bag that was fashionable, even though the old one was still good.

On Facebook, we’ve been discussing some zero waste back to school ideas. From uniforms to pencil shavings, we’ve got you covered!

Make it last

Anne suggested “Buy longlasting items like metal pencil sharpeners.”

Amy introduced us to a brand called Jansport who make backpacks with a, wait for it… lifetime guarantee!

Compost pencil shavings!

It’s the little things that make the difference, right? Jane said “reuse pencil sharpenings in compost and mulch”

Uniform swaps

Andrea advised “School uniform swaps! Our school has a Facebook page where people swap uniform that has been grown out of but still has life left in it!

Label it

Cait said “I bought “name tapes” to label my kids’ clothes at primary school. Label everything, including outdoor coats and wellies, because children I worked with were incapable of recognising their own clothes. I still use the name tapes on my son’s rugby kit….he’s 21!”

Upcycle old uniform

Andrea wrote “I use cloth menstrual pads and have used my daughter’s cotton polo shirts that she has grown out of to make the cores in the pads!”

One man’s lost property…

Lyn reminded us “Some schools have a stock of ‘lost’ or donated items. If your child needs something ask and offer a donation. If your child loses something, don’t accept that it’s gone – phone the school and ask as often children are too embarassed or lazy to ask themselves.” A good marker pen or label with name helps a lot to reunite articles with their owners!

Cait agreed, she wrote “Most schools have masses of “lost” uniform and PE kit. Ask to re-home some of it, before the caretaker gets the job of piling it into a skip.

Pass it on

Emma shared a charity I’ve never heard of before called Sal’s Shoes. Sal’s shoes was set up after the owner discovered there are 300 million children in the world for whom walking with shoes is a rarity. And in some cases, children cannot go to school unless they wear shoes. In their first year, Sal’s shoes collected 4,805 pairs of shoes and distributed them in 8 countries, including the UK.

Zero Waste lunches

My suggestion was to choose a metal bento box for making packed lunches, to avoid needing to wrap things in cling film.

Amanda said “I’ll be taking a water bottle and a packed lunch every day.


What about you – what are your suggestions for returning to school without creating excess waste?

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Rachelle Strauss

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