An Eco Friendly Back to school!

The production of wooden pencils takes a toll on the world's forests, with 82,000 trees cut down each year to make 2 billion traditional wooden pencils, as each tree yields about 170,000 pencils.[1].

Did you know that “Worldwide, 73 percent of beach litter is plastic”[2]? These include cigarette filters, plastic bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, toothbrushes, and more that are often used once and then thrown away.

July’s global plastic-free movement once again presented us many alarming facts about plastic pollution around the globe. With August being back to school month and with many of us having taken time to reflect on our consumption choices over the past few months, Samara & Co Team decided to offer you a responsible approach tips for getting back to it this fall.

Back to school with the environment in mind

Back to school time often means expenses with a complete shopping list asking for new school supplies and new clothes. Following today’s consumer trends, many will be purchasing items with a fairly limited lifespan… Sadly, this means that more of the Earth’s resources will be plundered and more waste will invariably be intended for landfill.

With plastic being omnipresent in school supplies, many wonder if it is possible, and really worth it, to attempt a zero waste back to school. At Samara & Co, we strongly believe that an eco-friendly start to the school year is possible. We even have a few tips and tricks to share with you so that you avoid consuming too much and can do it the smarter way. In addition to being better for the planet, these tips could save you some money!

Tips for an eco-friendly and financially smart return to school

Reuse school supplies

Before buying every item on your school supplies list, first check if you have any at home. It’s easy to forget what we have stored in all our drawers and cupboards! It would not be surprising to find pencils, pens, scissors, glue sticks, notebooks and/or binders that are still in very good condition and are just waiting to be reused. By giving a second life to what you already have at home, you could save and decrease your plastic consumption by reducing the packaging in which school items are often packed!

Pro tip: at the end of the school year, start a box of reusable items by taking stock of what is left and what could be used again next year. Besides saving you some money, this tip will help you save some time, often wasted looking for stray items when school is about to start again.

Recycle when possible

Another good way to make back to school time better for the planet and for your wallet is to buy used items. Clothing, aprons, textbooks and calculators are a few items that can easily be found second hand. Don’t be shy to ask your friends, family or neighbors if they have what you need and to go look for it in thrift stores or lost items!

With children growing fast and a new list of items every year, it might also be interesting to organize exchanges between parents! Think about it; some items your kid no longer needs are probably on other kids’ lists and vice versa!

Choose eco-responsible products when possible

If there are still a few items left on your list after collecting what you had at home, buying second-hand, or recycling when it was possible, try shopping for eco-friendly products!

Items made from recycled materials

Keep an eye out for supplies made from recycled materials. In stores, certain products such as paper and notebooks often have a recycled option! Other items like backpacks, lunch bags and pencil cases can also have an eco-friendly option, which are often made by local artisans! Terra Organica’s bags available on our website are very good examples of locally made items using recycled materials!

Choose more durable materials

You can also choose to continue to be part of the solution to plastic pollution by choosing not to buy plastic items. To do so, try to substitute plastic for more durable materials like wood or metal. For example, you can buy unvarnished wooden pencils instead of plastic pencils. Also ask yourself; why buy notebooks, dividers and binders made with plastic when there are other options without? Again, in addition to being better for the planet, these options will often be more sustainable (if not always) and will make you save in the long run!

Choose items without packaging

Did you know that “40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, used just once and then discarded”[3]? To avoid single-use plastic consumption, look out for school supplies that come in plastic-free packaging or with no packaging at all! In order to do so and prevent plastic packaging from ending up in nature, you could buy some items in art supplies and crafts stores.

When it’s not possible to buy the product without packaging or a container, for example when buying hand sanitizer, try to find products that are sold in a reusable glass container! Oneka’s hand sanitizer is a great example; it is locally-made, sold in a glass bottle and can easily be refilled!

Choose reusable or refillable products

When possible, avoid disposable items and try to choose reusable or refillable products. It is now pretty easy to find refillable options for supplies such as pens, markers, glue and tape. When chosen, these options will save you money since you won’t have to repurchase it over and over again!

Buy local!

Let’s not forget that eco-responsible consumption is even better when it is local. When possible, consider choosing the items that are locally-made in your city, your province or your country! This choice will be better for the planet and will encourage small local businesses who are always very grateful for our support.

To help make your eco-friendly shopping easier and your experience better, we offer a multitude of trustworthy local Canadian brands on our website!

Zero waste lunches

Back to school also means meal prepping for lunches. To succeed in having a zero waste lunch box, you just need to be well equipped! The essentials are reusable containers, reusable bags and biodegradable food packaging to replace the single-use plastic bags.

To reduce or even totally eliminate the single-use of plastic when preparing lunches, avoid pre-packaged or single-serve foods. We know they can be tempting because they are quick and easy, but they can also be replaced very easily with bulk foods and snacks.

Better choices for everyone

New habits can sometimes seem difficult to acquire, but once integrated, they are very simple! In our experience, although they seem more complicated at first, these eco-friendly habits save us time and money, as well as being better for the environment!

Why not see the start of the school year as another great opportunity to eat locally as well as to improve some of our lifestyle choices!

What do you all think? What tips do you want to apply/incorporate during this year back to school? And maybe when you return to the office? Let us know by tagging us on social media!

Sources :
1* How Many Trees Are Cut Down Each Year To Make Pencils? :
2* National Geographic - 10 shocking facts about plastic :
3* National Geographic - Fast facts about plastic pollution :