Back to school: Our top tips to get ready for an eco-friendly return!

With back to school just over the horizon, now is a great time to think about making it as eco-friendly as possible. Here are some of the best eco-friendly school supplies & tips from Y’earn! 

When the summer holidays begin, six long weeks stretch ahead. Days of endless sunshine and ice cream… or daydreams of endless sunshine and ice cream! Then, before you know it, it’s September again and it’s time to get ready to send the kids back to school. Before you buy everything brand-new, here is our guide to doing things differently. After all, a new school year doesn’t mean we have to be less green. So read on for our favourite eco-friendly school supplies, covering everything from eco-friendly pens to lunchboxes!

We’ve already covered sustainable school uniform, so now let’s focus on the little things – which can make a huge difference. 

Talk to your kids about sustainability

It may be that your children have got used to getting new school supplies every September. Let’s face it, it’s fun picking out a new pencil case featuring your favourite cartoon character, or those essential glitter gel pens. However, now is a great time to chat with your children about what it means to live sustainably and what eco-friendly school supplies could look like!

Maybe this year the focus will be on reusing and recycling. Most kids will be happy to know that they’re doing their bit for the planet. It might even inspire them to bring more eco-friendly ideas to school!

Reusing is better than recycling

Some stationery supplies may need replacing at the end of the school year. We understand that sending children to school with pens without ink or pencils that have been sharpened to a stub isn’t practical. There is no reason, however, why your child needs a whole new pencil case, just teach them that their old pencil case is the eco-friendly option for their new year’s school supplies! 

The same goes for backpacks, lunchboxes and even plastic wallets. Do an inventory of what you already have before buying lots of new things. Or maybe agree to swap with some other parents so items feel new or more ‘grown up’ if your child’s tastes have really changed.  If you have spare pages at the end of a workbook, why not pull them out and use them for rough paper? Anything’s possible.

When it comes to lunch, make it plastic-free

As well as ensuring your little one’s school supplies are eco-friendly, be thoughtful about the lunch you pack for your child. What can you do to make sure that it is free from single-use plastic? We love a beeswax wrap for food. You could even treat your little one to some reusable bamboo cutlery. For more tips, why not check out our guide to a plastic-free picnic? If you’re reading to go the extra mile, then why not pack a plastic free sustainable food lunch? Check out our guide to sustainable food brands here!

Recycle with ease

One of the reasons why so many items end up in landfill is because they can’t be recycled with the rest of our household plastic and card. That’s why we love TerraCycle. TerraCycle is a worldwide, free recycling initiative. All you have to do is sign up, then you can send off those tricky recyclable items to be given a new life, at no cost to you. 

For the school return, this is particularly relevant to those pens and writing instruments which we might otherwise throw away. BIC run The Writing Instruments Recycling Programme in the UK. Not only do they recycle, but they also give money to schools, charities and other non-profits for every writing instrument that gets sent their way. They’ve already donated over £60,000. Not bad at all!

If you must buy new, buy sustainable & eco-friendly school supplies

Sometimes you have to buy new items for the new school year. If this is the case, do what you can to buy sustainably. These are our favourite eco-friendly school supply options, which are long-lasting and kind to the world:

  • Plantable pencils: What’s not to love here? Not only are these pencils made from sustainably harvested cedar wood, but once they are too short to use, they can be planted in the ground. Before you know it, your child’s pencil can go from writing their homework to growing your herb garden. Amazing!
  • Bamboo pencil sharpeners: These pencil sharpeners have five holes instead of the usual two, making them loads more useful. Oh, and also they look so much prettier than their plastic counterparts. A must for every pencil case.
  • Decomposition notebook: We love the design of this decomposition notebook designed by Michael Roger, which is made with 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper. You know what that means… A guilt-free purchase and the perfect place for your child to write down all their ideas!
  • WWF Pencil case: We are more than a little bit smitten with the panda design of this pencil case which is made from recycled plastic bottles. It’s the perfect size – and it’s built to last.
  • PlanetBox Rover lunchbox: This is the master of all lunchboxes. It’s made from stainless steel and is, obviously, completely free of plastic nasties. It even has several compartments so that lunch can be easily served. Perfect for picky eaters!
  • Fingal Backpack by Trakke: If your child’s backpack needs upgrading, a Fingal is a great choice. Available in four different colours, this backpack is handmade in Scotland from waxed canvas. It’s not cheap, but it does come with a lifetime guarantee, meaning that if it gets fully used, it can be replaced for free!
  • Eco-friendly Pens by Remarkable: Every item at Remarkable is made from recycled plastic waste, from the notebooks to the pencils and pens. Personally, we can’t get enough of their eco-friendly recycled highlighter pens which even come in a recyclable box. 

If you’re looking for ways to bring more sustainability into your life, why not sign up to Y’earn? With us, you can rent rather than buy the items that your little ones need which means, you guessed it, more love, less waste. Alternatively, you make money from items your child has outgrown and feel good that it gets a second lease of life. In the meantime, we wish you and your family a very happy return to school. 

eco written on page using eco-friendly school supplies pencil

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If this is your first visit, hello, let us introduce ourselves. We’re Y’earn and we exist to create more love, less landfill. Pretty lofty, right? Well, not really, it’s actually pretty simple. Our aim is to make renting as common as owning so we live more sustainably while helping the community around us.

Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people in your community or make some cash if you have items you don’t need right now. We’re a sustainable business that plants 🌲, adopts 🐝 and donates to children’s charities.  We’re helping each other and the planet, one rental at a time.

You can read more about how Y’earn works here.

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Y'earn Baby & Kids

Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people and small businesses in your community or make some cash if you have items you don't need right now. We plant 🌲 and adopt 🐝, plus give to children’s charities.

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  1. If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, head over to our Facebook Community Group to see more of our blogs and get involved with discussions around sustainable parenting!

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  2. […] That’s why we at Y’earn created this blog. Whether it’s advising parents on recycling or on an eco-friendly return to school this September, we hope our blog and FB Group will help busy parents make easy personal changes […]

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