Going Green to Go Back to School


By SCA Community Engagement Fellow Hayden Sloan

The back-to-school season has arrived! Did you buy everything on the list yet for yourself or your student? Getting a slew of new school supplies every year can be a lot – a lot for your wallet, a lot for students to carry, and a lot for the environment!

Before kids even get to their classrooms, we can start teaching them how to make conscientious, earth-friendly choices. One change at a time, we are creating the next generation of conservation leaders. If you’ve found yourself wondering how to get through the school year more sustainably, this post is for you.

School supplies makeover

The first piece of advice is: try to make what you have last. I know I’m not the only one who feels giddy on the office supplies aisle, but it can be a lot of unnecessary plastic and waste. Instead, get excited about these more earth-friendly options for your back-to-school needs!

Pencil highlighters

Highlighters that run dry are a huge pain. With a pencil highlighter, you can avoid that headache AND know that the wood is biodegradable! 

Lunch tiffins

Lunch boxes can be a personality statement with the variety of graphics available, but try out these stainless steel ones! They’ll last more than just one school year and if you want to personalize them, you can always add stickers. 


In my experience, folders and binders rarely make it through a single grade level. For something that’s thrown out on a regular basis, why make it out of a material that lasts forever?

Crayola Recycling: A New Life for Dead Markers

Start planning ahead for waste management at the end of the school year by becoming a ColorCycle Champion! This Crayola program offers a way to send spent markers back to the manufacturer so that the plastic tubes can be reused. Especially good for kindergartens! As a teacher, administrator, or parent, you can get your school involved and help us promote a circular economy!

Nike GRIND: Recycle Worn-Out Shoes

Growing up, an important part of a new school year was getting a new pair of shoes. But what to do with the old ones that are worn out? If they’ve got life in them, they’re just too small or your style has changed, donate them of course! But if they’re holey and extremely well broken in? Nike GRIND will take your old shoes, grind them up, and use that material for other products! Much better than sitting in a landfill for centuries. Try to get a shoe drive together at your school or office and ship a bunch of pairs together! 

Important tip: Don’t get overwhelmed! Use what you already have and make these sustainable changes as needed to replace old, worn out items. One change this semester and two changes next semester can go a long way!

Check out more articles by author Hayden Sloan.

Student Conservation Association
Posted in: