Back-to-school season is upon us, which means shopping. Lots of shopping. Dubbed “Christmas in August”, it’s actually the second-biggest shopping season of the year. And it can be pretty wasteful, too. Unnecessarily so, we think. That’s why we’ve put together 4 tips to help you stay sustainable this year—both inside and outside the classroom.

Don’t buy new if you don’t have to

Before committing time and money to a shopping spree, take stock of what you already have. Chances are you’ve got pencils, pens and paper left over from last year. And that old backpack likely doesn’t need to be replaced, either. Instead of buying new threads, look into reusing old ones. The online marketplace is also bustling with resale options. Facebook, for instance, has tons of local resell boards where you can buy popular brands at a reduced price.

Buy better

If you can’t avoid buying new, buy better. By this, we simply mean opting for sustainable products instead of more wasteful alternatives. You’d be shocked at how many of them there are. Like these pencils made from recycled newspaper or water bottle pens, for example. You can also pick up recycled notebooks, too. And don’t skimp on batteries! Remember, rechargeable batteries are good for up to 1000 charges.

Instead of packing lunches in brown paper bags, consider buying a lunchbox. Plastic food containers are also a much better alternative to Ziploc bags. And if you’re already stocked up on Ziplocs, you can always reuse them. Also, we’re big fans of those S’well bottles. They’re less wasteful than a plastic bottle (they can hold juice, too!).

As a rule of thumb, keep your eyes peeled for products that can be reused instead of used once and tossed out. Beyond being better for the environment, these items are better for your wallet.

Lead by example

A new school year can be a new beginning for you as well. If you’re not already taking a leadership role in your household’s recycling efforts, now’s as good a time as any to get started. Teaching friends and family about good recycling is easy. And you don’t have to be annoying about it, either. Most people actually want to do better, sometimes all they need is a little guidance. We’re looking at you ;). And if you need help, that’s what we’re here for.    

Getting rid of all that packaging

Don’t just toss out all that leftover plastic packaging willy-nilly. Some of it’s recyclable! Seriously, though, you’d be surprised at how many people just thoughtlessly throw stuff away without thinking about it. And that goes for stuff you’re replacing, as well. Like those old iPads, for example. We get it, sometimes figuring out whether something’s recyclable can be tricky. But we can help. If your city’s a part of our network, just download the Recycle Coach app and we can show you what goes where. That way, you’re never wasting anything.