Eco-Friendly Back-to-School Tips

It’s that time of year again! As families prepare keiki for their back-to-school journey, many of us find ourselves navigating the bustling aisles of supply stores and stocking up on essentials. However, in the rush to get ready for the upcoming academic season, it’s easy to overlook the environmental impacts of our purchases. From reusing last year’s school supplies to seeking eco-friendly alternatives, here are some tips for embracing environmentally conscious choices that positively impact our island.

  1.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Evaluate what items can be reused from previous school years. These can include backpacks, lunchboxes and scissors. With the proper care, these items can be used year after year. It’s also helpful to check your local thrift stores for second-hand school supplies.
  2. Quality Over Quantity: Invest in high-quality and durable supplies that will last longer. This will reduce excess waste over time and prevent the need for frequent replacements. In addition, supplies made from recycled materials are becoming more widely available.
  3. Support Local: When possible, buy supplies from local businesses that uphold sustainable practices. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with shipping costs and supports the local economy.
  4. Pack Sustainable Lunches: Choose reusable baggies, reusable food containers or beeswax wraps over plastic baggies for school lunches. Plastic bags are one of the most common pieces of litter on our beaches. Keeping snacks in eco-friendly containers helps reduce your plastic footprint. An easy way to reduce your plastic footprint is to reuse empty take out containers when packing your home lunch.
  5. Carpool: Try changing up how you get to school, such as carpooling with friends for your morning commute. This reduces the number of cars on the road, and as a result, carbon emissions associated with driving. Other options include riding bicycles and scooters, using the Skyline or bus, or walking if school is nearby.

    Keeping these tips in mind will set you up for an eco-friendly school year! Taking these steps to keep trash and debris out of our storm drains and waters will allow us to continue to protect our water and shared ecosystem here in Hawai’i.

    Sources: Keep America Beautiful, Surfrider Organization