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Published on July 21st, 2017 | by TerraCycle


4 Simple Ways To Go Green For Back To School

January may mark the first month of the Western calendar, but for many (including myself), the August and September months truly punctuate the New Year.

back to school

Students, parents of students, and anyone who was ever either or both of these can relate: Back-to-school season is a time for new beginnings, and this too often means new “stuff.” Now is a prime time to reevaluate your habits, schedule, and routine as they relate to your mission to live your best life with minimal impact on the environment.

A more sustainable routine is something to strive for year-round, but in the spirit of fresh starts, here are four simple ways parents and students alike can go green for back to school:

1. Mindfully curate your closet

The beginning of the school year is a great time to make intentional choices when it comes to your wardrobe. Your clothes should reflect your values and express who you are—and that is no trivial topic.

messy closet image

With that being said, your closet purge doesn’t have to add to the world’s waste problem. On average, every American tosses 81 pounds of unwanted garments a year, which equals 26 billion pounds of textiles annually added to landfills. So instead of trashing your gently used and off-season items, donate them to a nonprofit like Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity; try to sell them at a trade like Crossroads Trading Co. or Brickyard Buffalo; or recycle them if damaged.

2. Recycle old and used art supplies

Creativity can be messy, and when used up from the previous school year, art supplies can create a lot of waste. But since art supplies are often made of different combinations of plastic, metals and organic materials (like natural bristles on brushes), they are not easy to recycle.

Instead of tossing your old and used items in the landfill, check out my company’s Art Supplies – Zero Waste Box™. One of a range of premium, turnkey recycling solutions for difficult-to-recycle items (including school and office supplies and sports equipment), this easy-to-use box lets you fill it with the appropriate waste stream and ship to us using a pre-paid, pre-affixed shipping label to be safely recycled for use in new products.

3. Walk, bike, or carpool whenever possible

If your commute is light enough that you are able to walk or bike to work, consider yourself lucky and take advantage of the opportunity. Ditching your car reduces your carbon emissions, saves you money, and is great for your health.

For those of you who must drive, consider public transport or carpooling. Consolidating trips takes cars off the road, reduces gas consumption, and lowers your individual carbon footprint. As an added bonus, some commuter cities have carpool lanes that lessen the stress of traffic slowdowns.

4. BYOL (Bringing Your Own Lunch

When it comes to fueling your hustle, bringing your own lunch directs your energy and resources in the most effective way. By packing your own lunches and snacks, you are connecting to your food and creating a mindful routine. Be sure to bring your lunch in BPA-free plastic and glass containers, alongside reusable cutlery.

paintbrushes photo by Lia Leslie on Unsplash;kid photo by Justin Young on Unsplash

Get the Green Living Ideas book in softcover or PDF for as low as $2.99!

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About the Author

Founded in 2001, TerraCycle, Inc., is the world’s leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, ranging from used chip bags to coffee capsules to cigarette butts. Each year, across 20 countries, TerraCycle collects and repurposes billions of pieces of waste, donating millions of dollars to schools and charities in the process. To learn more about TerraCycle or get involved in our recycling programs, please visit

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