5 Easy Tips For a Sustainable ‘Back to School’ Season

5 Easy Tips For a Sustainable ‘Back to School’ Season

It’s back-to-school season! Whether it’s virtually or in-person, the school season can be expensive. Plus, all the spending takes a toll on our planet by creating unnecessary waste. With plastic pollution growing and climate change worsening, taking sustainability into account is key for this upcoming school season.

Times have been tough in the last year, but we have the opportunity to create a “new normal” with sustainability in the front row. 

Why Does Sustainability Matter During ‘Back to School’ Season?

Schools produce enormous amounts of waste—especially food waste. The US school system creates 530,000 tons of food waste every single year. And this is only food. There are tons of other types of waste like paper, cardboard, and plastic.

Over the course of a single year, 900 million trees are cut down to supply raw materials to paper mills. Adding to this statistic, the U.S. public school system uses a staggering 34 billion pieces of paper each year.¹

Maybe you can’t tackle all this waste on your own, but small actions add up. By being mindful of your habits and acting sustainably through all of your purchases, you help create a brighter (and cleaner) future for your kids. 

Help us in our mission to change our ‘all things disposable’ habits into conscious consumerism. 

These are a few things you can do to keep the ‘back to school’ season more sustainable: 

1. Talk to Kids About Sustainability

Dad, mom, and three kids sitting on a sofa holding reusable silicone cups and smiling while looking at each other.

Kids are the future of our planet and they must understand that we need to take care of it. This doesn’t mean scaring them with doomsday scenarios— quite the opposite! Teach them to appreciate and protect our planet. With your guidance, they can create sustainable habits from an early age. 

By teaching your kids why they’re doing certain things— like using recycled school supplies— you’re teaching them to care. Kids will always follow your lead, so lead by example. Show them how you help protect the environment and how they can too. 

2. Before Going on a Shopping Spree, Remember The 5 Rs 

It’s easy to get carried away with the back-to-school sales, leading to overbuying (and overspending). But remember, a new school year does not necessarily mean you need all new supplies. Before you set off on an overly expensive trip to the store, apply the 5 Rs:

Reuse. Do your kids really need a new backpack? Are the markers from last year still working? Only buy the things you need. It’s perfectly okay to reuse things. In fact, it’s encouraged! 

Reduce. Before buying something ask yourself, do I (or my kids) really need this? Avoid buying for the simple pleasure of getting something new. Be a conscious consumer. 

Recycle. Are your old electronics no longer functional? Got loads of used paper from last school year? Make sure to properly dispose of all your waste. 

Repurpose. Got paper that was only used on one side? Save it and repurpose it for art projects or daily notes. Make the absolute best of the things you already have. 

Refuse. Avoid falling for the plastic trap. Refuse single-use plastics.

3. Opt for Eco-Friendly School Supplies! 

Many school supplies hide nasty chemicals that could be harmful to your kids— especially since kids are known for putting everything in their mouths. Phthalate, a toxic chemical banned from children’s toys, is ironically found in many school supplies like backpacks, pencils, bags, and erasers. 

Choosing a sustainable option is not only best for your child, but it’s also best for the environment. Always look for PVC, BPA, phthalate, and fragrance free supplies. Not sure where to find earth-friendly school supplies? Here’s a list of sustainable supplies to get you started. 

4. Cook a Healthy, Homemade Lunch

We’ve already covered how much food waste is created by schools each year. A great way to help tackle this issue is by making lunch for your kids. An environmentally-friendly lunch highlights plant-based foods and homemade meals. 

To take your eco-friendly efforts even further, avoid plastic-packed snacks. Instead, buy them in bulk or make your own homemade snacks. Then, instead of using ziplock bags, put them in our kid-fave reusable silicone snack bags! 

A little girl standing up holding a reusable silicone snack back with her left hand.

Our endlessly reusable snack bags are the perfect sustainable swap to make snacking more sustainable. They’re microwave and dishwasher safe and free from BPA, BPS, phthalate, PVC, and lead. The perfect option for an eco-friendly back-to-school lunch box!

Not sure what to put in your sustainable lunch box? Here’s a list of ideas for healthy lunches.

5. Get Those Reusables! 

There is so much plastic waste in a standard lunch box— pre-packed snacks and foods, bottled beverages, plastic cutlery, and straws. Let’s change that! Switching to low-waste, all-reusable options are ideal for many reasons. 

Plastic items like cutlery and straws are made from fossil fuels and toxic chemicals. After their short-lived life, they pollute the environment for years to come. They’re a bad choice for your kid’s health and for the environment. 

Use reusables instead! Also opt for a reusable bottle of water, reusable cutlery, and of course a reusable silicone straw. To make it easier for you to bring reusable straws anywhere, we created a keychain tin with a reusable straw. 

To use it, simply attach the keychain to a backpack or lunchbox! This way you always have it with you. 

A blue backpack with a keychain attached to it. The keychain has a reusable silicone straw inside a tin.

Making Sustainability fun! 

At Gosili we believe sustainability should be fun! Environmental news can be overwhelming, but we’re here to give an optimistic look compared to all the doomsday news. We’re committed to doing our part by changing our habits— and helping you change yours! 

Shop for our earth-friendly back-to-school essentials (if you need them!) here. 

What other ways are you keeping the back-to-school season sustainable? Let us know in the comments below! 


  1. Record Nations, How Much Do Schools Spend On Paper Per Year.