Back-to-school shopping tends to be fun for the student and painful for the wallet. You have the expectation of showing up to class with all the needed supplies, and many of them fall apart, stop working, or get lost throughout the school year.
And even though most mass media doesn’t talk about school supplies as a source of pollution and waste, many school supplies are made with low-quality materials that make their lifetime short. Students have to throw them into the trash and buy a new low-quality supply that will last a short period of time, and the cycle goes on and on.
This is where sustainable practices become important. Being sustainable is not limited to plastic-free supplies. It is also about investing in good quality products that will have a long lifetime so that we don’t have to replace them every year and produce a massive amount of trash. In the end, if you don’t need to buy replacements, you save money, and the investment becomes not only a sustainable decision but a financially smart one as well.
With these ideas in mind, here are a few school supplies that are sustainable, super cool, and that are worth the investment.
If going to school was a movie, the backpack would be one of the main characters. A backpack is an extension of our personality, and it holds everything that is important for us. This is why we must treat a backpack with respect and good care. There are many fast fashion companies that come up with backpack designs that represent seasonal trends, but many of them are made of low-quality materials that won’t last long periods of time. And of course, the more backpacks you throw away each school year, the more you contribute to waste and pollution.
It is important to invest in a good quality backpack that is meant to be a backpack. The truth is, that many people tend to carry many books, a ton of supplies, and a few gadgets like a laptop or a tablet. So backpacks should be made of a material strong enough to hold all these supplies without falling apart after a couple of months. Invest in a good quality backpack that you like that aligns with your personality, and that is resilient.
If you are a student who tends to carry a lot of supplies and doesn’t take good care of things, consider buying a camping bag, these bags are meant to resist extreme weather, outdoor activities, and heavy-duty stuff. That way, you won’t have the need to replace a broken bag at the end of each semester. You will see how much money you end up saving!
There are many bad habits that a lot of people have when it comes to having lunch: eating with single-used utensils, putting the food in a styrofoam container, drinking a soda from a plastic bottle, and finishing up the meal with a bag full of single-use plastics and napkins. Many people do this every single day! There are many solutions for having lunch without producing tremendous amounts of trash.
For instance, the Eco Collapsible Meal Kit by Smart Planet is BPA Free and is made of silicone. You can put it in the dishwasher and the microwave and reuse it as many times as you want. Some other alternatives include the lunch Boxes by ECO Lunch Box, which are made of stainless steel and will keep your food fresh and protected with a silicone lid. There are many different sizes, shapes, and designs, so you can choose whatever aligns best with your needs. Disposable plastics are obsolete. Leave them in the past and start using the coolest and fabulous sustainable containers that are out there to take your lunch.
Even though most teachers won’t say that a cell phone is a school supply, most students are always carrying their phones to stay in communication. A recent article establishes that Gen Z spends five hours daily on their phones. This translates to a massive amount of energy consumed when we charge our phones every morning. This is why a solar battery charger for the phone is a fantastic idea. The sunlight will charge the device if you leave it by a window, and after a few hours, it will be ready to charge your phone.
This means that you can recharge your phone using sunlight only and reducing your carbon footprint drastically! Now imagine all the problems that this product solves. If you are making a 4-hour field trip with your friends, you can simply put the charger near a window and then charge your phone to play your favorite music or use a navigation app without the concern of running out of battery. It’s definitely an underrated device that has been around for a few years, and many people are unfamiliar with it.
Many students work part-time, study full-time, and take extracurricular classes. Being a student can be very chaotic and stressful because there are a lot of things going on at the same time, and it is really hard to memorize all the deadlines and special events that are going on throughout the school year. This is why planners are super helpful. You can write all of your homework and projects in a planner and treat each day as a checklist to make sure you are aware of all your responsibilities.
Now, most planners out there are made of harmful materials that will take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Many covers are made of vinyl, laminated paper, or pleather (a material that looks like leather but is actually plastic).
Now, there is a sustainable planner that is called the Zero-Waste Weekly Planner by Wisdom Supply Co., this planner is made entirely of recycled paper, and the cover is fully recyclable without plastic materials. The planner comes with a fair amount of space each day so that you can start organizing your projects without harming the environment.
Most likely, the pen is the supply that you use the most in classes; whether you are going to school or taking online classes, it is super important to take notes. But guess what? Most pens are made of plastic! Plastic is one of the cheapest and more versatile materials in the market, so many industries are using it as much as they can. As plastic doesn’t seem to be going anyway soon, many scientists and engineers are trying to figure out how to reuse all of the plastic we consume across the world.
Pilot pens are one of the results of this exploration. These pens are made entirely from plastic bottles. This means that you are giving a second opportunity for the plastic to be used! This reduces tremendously the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and floating in the oceans, especially because we use pens as the default supply to take notes at school, at work, and for personal purposes.
The Pilot pens come in different colors, with refillable liquid ink, ballpoint, extra fine point, bold point, etc. You are going to feel so happy knowing that with each of these pens, you will be reusing plastic bottles that would have ended up in the ocean.
There is always a teacher that asks you to print a bunch of things for homework. “Bring me 20 different pictures that illustrate the 13 colonies.” “Print this 30-page essay that we will read in class and throw away the paper afterward.” Many of us have very poor habits when it comes to respecting paper and using sources smartly. It is a good idea to print on both sides when the teacher and the project let us do it. Moreover, if you use recycled paper in your printer, you will make a huge difference, as you will be using paper that doesn’t come from new trees that were specifically lost to produce that paper, and they were recycled from paper waste instead. The paper by Printworks is made from recycled food and beverage containers, and it is as bright and useful as the virgin paper.
Even though smartphones seem to be capable of doing everything, including telling you the weather, taking pictures, showing you the prices of stocks, and scheduling alarms, most math teachers won’t allow students to use their phones in class. They will expect you to have a calculator. The calculator by Onyx and Green is made entirely of bamboo, and it is powered with solar energy, so you won’t need batteries that are hard to recycle and have the potential of polluting an entire lake. The calculator is fully biodegradable, easy to carry, and it has a big display. You are going to be the coolest person in your class with this fabulous calculator!
Every single decision that you take when picking school supplies matters. Pick whatever aligns with your needs and values because your education is one of the greatest gifts you can receive. Never underestimate the impact and power you hold and all the things you can do to make this world a better place. Good luck in class!