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Hillsborough County - Tips for making going back to school greener and more sustainable

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Purchasing school supplies

posted August 8, 2022 | 2:50 PM

Explore ways to reduce, reuse and recycle

When shopping for back-to-school supplies, consider ways to reduce, reuse and recycle where you live, work, play and learn. Autumn is approaching and it’s time for the students to return to class. School supplies can be at the top of many people’s shopping lists. This is a great time to choose sustainable options that help protect the planet and support stronger, healthier communities.

Whether you’re on your first day of preschool or your junior year of college, if going green and sustainability is on your back-to-school list, keep these things in mind:

Shopping for back-to-school supplies

Sustainability starts with your shopping cart. Consider the following when purchasing school supplies:

  • Make a list of what you already have before you shop. Get a list from your child’s school or teacher and ask yourself how it will be used.
  • Look for durable items that are made from recycled materials and will last beyond the school year. When looking for paper or notebooks, look for post-consumer recycled materials. Recycled materials and eco-friendly consumables usually have a special tag or are clearly marked on the packaging. Lunch boxes, pencil holders, backpacks and even clothes can be made from recycled water and plastic bottles.
  • Packing lunches reduces waste at school, especially if the stuffing is reused, recycled or composted. Pack foods you know you can eat and save foods you plan to throw away.If you’re packing school lunches, be sure to include reusable dishes, containers, and even straws. compost at home Or in participating communities, some non-reusable items such as bottles and cans can be recycled.
  • Uses recycled paper. Also, before you throw away paper (in recycling), consider using it for crafts, notepads, or other school projects.

Return to Campus/University Transfer

Whether you or your child is a freshman or returning to campus this fall, you can pursue a greener move-in experience if you consider the following:

  • Coordinate your needs with your future roommate/suitmate and bring only what you need. It might be a good idea to coordinate high-priced items such as furniture and electrical appliances, or to shop for second-hand goods.
  • Add items made from recycled eco-friendly materials to your shopping list.
  • Make sure dorm rooms and suites have recycling containers so students know when, where and how to recycle items. Just because you can recycle at home doesn’t mean you can recycle on campus. And vice versa. Universities may also require residents to separate recyclable items.
  • Pack reusable plates, napkins and cutlery.
  • Bring real, live plants that can purify the air and plastic plants that you’ll eventually need to dispose of.
  • Don’t forget reusable shopping bags for groceries and other items.

take home essentials

Whether you shop online or visit a store, keep these tips in mind to make your shopping bags, shipping boxes and packaging sustainable.

  • Don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bags when shopping for back-to-school supplies. Plastic retail bags cannot be recycled Must be placed in a curbside cart and returned to a participating drop off location.
  • If you buy school supplies online, flatten and recycle the shipping boxes.
  • Check locally and follow packaging instructions before disposal.

Donate to School Supplies Drive

Consider donating money to the school’s Supply Drive in lieu of course materials. This ensures that schools have adequate inventory of the supplies they need most.

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* Adapted from content created by recycling partnership.