Okay, we know you are all busy, so we will get straight to the point.
Back to school and university can be a hectic time, with lots of new purchases required to ensure you are ready for another big year.
We believe that it’s possible to head back to both university and school in an ethical and sustainable way. Let’s explore 6 ways to ensure you can be equipped to go back to school in the most eco conscious way.
Drink Bottle. A staple for every child at school. There are some great alternatives that you can use, like stainless steel or plastic (BPA friendly). We highly recommend against glass drink bottles, due to the nature of children throwing their school bag/gear around.
Lunch/Snack Container The perfect option for a reusable lunch box or snack container is the Avanti airtight container. Stainless steel alternatives are durable enough to ensure they do not break when handled roughly. Plastic options will eventually break and will most likely end up in land fill.
Beeswax & Silicon wraps. Cling wrap is a highly processed plastic, that is single use in nature. It will end up in landfill, or be blown away and find its way into a waterway. Beeswax or silicon wraps are a great alternative. These are reusable and you can even make the beeswax wraps yourself. See how to here: Make your own beeswax wraps.
2nd Hand. School uniforms are a nightmare. It feels like you are always purchasing a new set, as they grow out of them or get wrecked through general wear and tear. So why invest in a brand-new set every year? Pop into the schools second hand shop, or visit your local op shops, to pick up some at a bargain. These are usually still in great condition and are around 50% of the RRP.
Back Packs. A great brand that does long lasting and durable back packs, that are covered by a lifetime warranty, is Crumpler. Crumpler is guaranteed against defects in materials and craftsmanship for the lifetime of the bag.
2nd hand text books.
This one is a no brainer and is an age-old ritual, but it would be remiss of us to not mention the fact that you should be looking for a 2nd hand text book. Even older versions can suffice as they are only updated with bare minimal information. This is generally a ploy from businesses to make you purchase a brand-new item. This will reduce un-necessary waste, it will ensure less trees are cut down to manufacture the book and less carbon emissions through the lifecycle of manufacturing, purchasing and disposing of the book.
Make your own Pencil case.
There is nothing too complicated about this option. The only things you will need to complete it are some material, a sewing machine and a zip. We love using old denim as the material as it is more durable for use as a pencil case. Some libraries have sewing facilities, which is a great free option for small jobs. Re-using old zips is a great way to minimise your consumer impacts. Alternatively, you can pick one up from craft shops for a few dollars.
Car Pool. Most people who live in the same area, tend to go to the same school. So, if you have neighbours or someone close to you, that you are reasonably close to, then I recommend you see if they would be open to a car-pooling arrangement. This lessens the pressure on you always doing the school run and it also takes 1 car off the road in the process.
Public transport. This is a daunting one for most parents as young children can be more vulnerable and susceptible to the stranger danger notion. But if you can manage to have a buddy system, or someone close that will look over them, then this is one of the most sustainable ways to send your child to school.
Ride a bike. Location permitting, this is a great way to ensure your child is active, healthy and that there is less carbon emissions entering the atmosphere through unnecessary travel.
It is important to consider how you truly use your stationary. For younger school children, there are great alternatives like food-based colour crayons like those found at www.ecocrayons.com.au. Biome offer a great range of pens and pencils that are made from recycled materials. The outer recycled casings are biodegradable and the ink cartridges can be returned directly to Biome, to be recycled through teracycle.Remember that Officeworks now offer a great opportunity to recycle old stationary at all of their stores.
This isn’t about outlining a 50-step process to being a more sustainable back to school or university student. We are highlighting 6 of the easiest ways to ensure heading back to school or uni, is more ethical, sustainable and addressing some of the biggest waste contributors.
You need to remember that most kids will spend around 12-13 years at school, then possibly another 3-4 years at university. Over the course of this time frame, there is a potential of contributing excessive amounts of unnecessary waste.
Back to School and University Facts:
- School uniforms, which are grown out of in 1-2 years. 85% of all textile purchases in Australia are sent to landfill.
- Textbooks are year specific. EG. Grade 6 advanced mathematics. These become redundant over time. This is where you see thing like Grade 6 advanced mathematics V2-3-4 etc. These end up sitting in 2nd hand book stores, to then be sent to landfill.
- School lunches: 5 days a week, 40 weeks a year, for over 12 years. Consider the fact that if you have 1x sandwich (wrapped in glad wrap/cling wrap) and 1x snack (in plastic packaging), that this will contribute up to 4800 pieces of single use packaging to waste. This packaging does not biodegrade, but breaks down into micro plastics and is eaten by birds, fish and other animals.
We hope this list enlightens you to some of the volumes and contributors to waste, through our education footprint. Some small and easy changes can make significant impacts, but it relies on us all to make an effort.
If you have any further points or ideas, we would love to hear them in the comment section below.