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Fall is coming! While this season brings cooler weather and fall beverages (like Starbucks’ new Apply Crisp Macchiato that I am obsessed with), it also means we’re heading back to school. Personally, I love shopping for school supplies – I find all of the organization and colors exciting – but buying all of that new supplies each semester (or more specifically, getting rid of it at the semester’s end) contributes to global warming. Here are some tips to go back to school while protecting our planet!

Invest in a Rocketbook notebook
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One of the biggest ways the back-to-school season harms the environment is through the large amount of paper used each school year for homework, notes, and planners. Rocketbook produces erasable notebooks that reduce paper waste. I have terrible handwriting, so I like to type my notes so that they are more organized and easier to read. Hand-writing notes is known to help with memorization, so with my Rocketbook notebook, I can hand-write my notes in class, type them up in a more organized fashion, and then erase the notebook. If your handwriting is more legible than mine, Rocketbook allows you to scan each page and send it directly to the location of your choice as a PDF. 

Rocketbook sells notebooks with graph paper and lined paper, as well as planners in both letter and executive sizes. The Rocketbook Fusion, which is the one I have, is a combination of all three. The executive-sized Rocketbook Fusion sells for $35; I know that sounds like a lot of money, but it will actually save you money in the long run. I no longer have to buy different notebooks for each class, and I do not need to buy new ones each semester. A Rocketbook notebook is a one-time purchase that will last you a long time.

study with a whiteboard

I like to keep my notes typed and saved in my Google Drive, but that is not how I like to study. Since hand-writing is supposed to help with memorization, I prefer writing out important concepts multiple times or organizing them into a chart or mind map. Writing the same thing repeatedly can take up a lot of paper, and a sheet of paper is typically not large enough to make a mind map. Instead of trying to squeeze one onto a piece of paper, I prefer to study using a large whiteboard. This gives me more room to spread out the information without wasting a ton of paper.

use quizlet or erasable flashcards

Flashcards are understandably one of the most-used studying techniques; they allow you to test yourself on contact without needing someone else there to test you. The only problem is that flashcards create a lot of paper waste, but there are ways to use flashcards without the waste. One way to do so is to use Quizlet. Quizlet is a free website and app where you can create digital flashcards. This allows you to quiz yourself from your phone, and you can even share your Quizlet sets with friends. A second way to use flashcards sustainably is to use erasable flashcards. Like their erasable notebooks, Rocketbook also sells erasable flashcards to help you reduce paper waste. Personally, I prefer to use Quizlet, but if you prefer to hand-write your flashcards, these could be a great tool!

use reusable masks
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Two years ago, masks would not have been considered school supplies, but we live in a different world now. Most schools require students to wear masks, so you will need to wear one type or another. One simple way to help save the planet is by using reusable masks instead of the disposable ones. This reduces waste, and there are tons of cute patterns you can choose from! Just please remember to wash your masks whenever you do laundry.

I hope you can use some of these suggestions to go back to school sustainably!

HCXO, Riley

Riley Boike

Millersville '22

Hi! I'm Riley Boike, and I'm a senior at Millersville University. I'm a Government, Policy, and Law major with a double minor in History and International Studies. As a government major, I love following politics, but I also like music, coffee, reading, Netflix, and my pets.
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