How To: Have A Sustainable Back to School Season

As most people are well aware by now, climate change is very real and its effects are disastrous and affect us all. This climate emergency means that it is necessary to change our consuming habits to reflect the dire situation that we are in. Changing your habits is never easy but here are some simple suggestions to start off the new school year a little more environmentally friendly. 

  1. 1. Need New Clothes? Visit a Thrift Store

    This is not a new idea. Thrift stores have been around forever. However, it’s time that we start using them more! You can often find hidden gems for a cheaper price than you could find them from the original store. Also, reusing a piece that someone doesn’t want any more is an excellent way to avoiding feeding into fast fashion.

  2. 2. Clothing Swap

    If you and your friends are finding that you have a lot of clothes that you want to give away, think about holding a clothing swap! You and your friends can meet up and trade with each other and add new pieces to your wardrobe for no cost!

  3. 3. Reuse Old Notebooks and Pens

    This is a pretty obvious one, but it still needs to be said. If the notebook that you have is only half used, keep using it! Use all your stationary until you have absolutely no choice but to replace it! Doing this will save the environment and your wallet!

  4. 4. Need a Laptop?

    As useful as devices like laptops and phones are, they are not the most environmentally friendly thing to manufacture. In addition, we live in a consumer culture where we buy new at all times so there are more laptops/phones than is actually needed which creates more waste. Therefore, consider reusing a laptop which you could find either on Kijiji or Facebook market place!

  5. 5. Bring a Reusable Lunch Bag to School

    Instead of eating out all the time, consider bringing lunches from home. This can create less waste and also be a money saver. Reuse the Ziploc bags that you already have, but if you happen to have the money, reusable sandwich bags, metal straws, etc. are all good things to consider buying for the long term. If you’re a coffee drinker, bring a portable cup to your favourite coffee/tea place and see if they can fill up your cup instead of using a disposable one!

  6. 6. Conserve Paper

    This is a tough one since it seems that we are always using paper in some wa, especially in University. Perhaps it’s impossible for you to completely get rid of paper in your life and that’s ok, the important thing is that we try to conserve in the ways that we can. For example, you could use your laptops for notes instead of buying new notebooks and instead of paper flashcards, you can use Quizlet for your flashcards. Quizlet also has an app for your phone so you can look at your flashcards on the go!

  7. 7. Utilize Public Transportation

    With our tuition, we are paying for the U-Pass so we might as well utilize it. Try to use public transportation as often as you can to cut down on your carbon emissions. If you happen to have a bike you could ride that while the weather is nice or consider carpooling!

  8. 8. Use Ecosia as your Search Engine

    Ecosia is a great search engine that will plant one tree for every 45 searches that you make, using the ad revenue that they make. Through your searches, they are also able to give money to many countries around the world. For example, they help with the deforestation in Morocco or providing alternative to palm oil in Indonesia. They also publish their monthly financial reports so you know that the money they make is going to the right places. Another bonus is that Ecosia doesn’t sell your data to advertisers and they have no third party trackers so they care about your privacy as well.

  9. 9. Follow People On Instagram for Inspiration

    A good way to stay motivated and connect with like-minded people is through social media. These are some of my favourite sustainable individuals on Instagram that reach different people but are all very effective in the way that they do it. Max la Manna is a zero waste chef that shares tips on his Instagram about how to utilize everything when you cook and how to not even let broccoli stems go to waste. Venetia Falconer is a sustainability activist who focuses on fashion and how wasteful it can be. Just one look at her Instagram and you can see that thrifting can be incredibly fashionable and there is no shame in wearing some of your old clothes. Greta Thunberg is a young climate and environmental activist who is not afraid to speak up about how climate change is affecting us in very serious ways. She recently travelled to New York for a climate meeting across the Atlantic ocean on a zero-carbon boat called the Malizia II. Verena Erin is another sustainability activist that I recently found who informs you about things that are imperative to climate change as well as asking questions that pertain to your well-being. Another really cool thing is that she lives in Edmonton too!

  10. 10. Use What You Have!

    A big mistake most people make when trying to be more sustainable is buying a lot of things that aren’t necessary because they already have an acceptable form of it at home (ex: reusable grocery bags). The big thing to remember is to use what you have and when what you have no longer works then that is the time to buy a more sustainable version of it. Even if the changes that you make aren’t that big, it still makes a difference.