As the back-to-school season approaches, it’s time to gear up for a sustainable, plastic and foam-free journey. While the excitement of new books, fresh supplies, and reconnecting with friends is palpable, it’s equally important to consider the environmental impact of our choices. It is estimated that an elementary school student in the United States produces on average 1.13 pounds of waste per week. A high school student will produce on average .34 pounds of waste per week. is here to guide you on a plastic and foam-free back-to-school shopping adventure, helping you make better choices that align with your goals of reducing single-use plastic and foam waste. Following these steps can help reduce the amount of waste produced each week of the school year. Read on to learn more and put these into action.

1. Plan Ahead: Before embarking on your plastic-free back-to-school shopping spree, take some time to plan. Create a list of essentials you’ll need for the upcoming academic year. Knowing exactly what you need will help you avoid impulse purchases and reduce the chances of excess plastic packaging. It’s also a good idea to check at home for what you already have to avoid anything exccess that you may already have.

2. Opt for Reusables: Investing in reusable items is a game-changer for plastic and foam-free living. Replace single-use plastic water bottles with stainless steel or glass options. Swap plastic lunch containers for stainless steel or silicone ones. Not only will you be reducing your plastic footprint, but you’ll also save money in the long run. Of course, if you already have these items, use what you have first or consider donating unwanted items to members of your community that may need them before completely replacing them.

3. Eco-Friendly Stationery: When it comes to stationery, there are plenty of plastic-free alternatives. Choose pencils made from sustainable materials like bamboo, and opt for refillable pens. Seek out notebooks with recycled paper and cardboard covers instead of plastic-coated options. And don’t forget to explore non-plastic alternatives for rulers, erasers, and other essentials. For older students, if they can use a laptop or tablet to learn and take notes, instead of plastic, foam, or paper products, this will reduce any access materials all together.

4. Cloth Bags and Backpacks: Plastic bags are a major contributor to pollution. Many states and provinces have already started banning them across North America. Replace them with cloth bags for carrying your books and supplies. Invest in a sturdy backpack made from natural fibers or recycled materials, ensuring it’s both fashionable and environmentally friendly.

5. Bulk Shopping: Shopping in bulk is a fantastic way to cut down on single use plastic and foam packaging. Look for stores that offer bulk options for snacks, dried fruits, nuts, and other school-friendly treats. Bring your own reusable containers and bags to fill up on these goodies, minimizing your plastic waste. If you can buy school supplies in bulk as well, check with friends and family members who may want to split the cost and share supplies for the students in their homes.

6. Sustainable Lunches: Packing a waste-free lunch is easier than you think. Swap out plastic sandwich bags for reusable cloth or beeswax wraps or silicone food storage bags. Opt for stainless steel lunchboxes and containers for storing snacks and meals. Packing a plastic and foam-free lunch not only benefits the environment but also encourages healthier eating habits as often the sugary and salty snacks are packaged in single-use plastic.

7. Second-Hand Shopping: Embrace second-hand shopping for back-to-school clothing and uniforms. Explore thrift stores, consignment shops, or online platforms to find gently used clothing and accessories. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also extend the lifespan of clothing items, reducing the demand for new plastic-based textiles.

8. Support Sustainable Brands: Do your research and support brands that prioritize sustainability and plastic and foam-free packaging. Look for call-outs and labels like “Plastic-Free Packaging” or “Eco-Friendly” when shopping for school essentials. By choosing such brands, you’re letting it be known you want a plastic and foam-free future.

Embarking on a plastic-free back-to-school shopping journey is an exciting and impactful way to make a positive change for our planet. By planning ahead, opting for reusables, embracing sustainable options, and supporting eco-friendly brands, you’ll be well on your way to reducing waste throughout the academic year. Let’s join together to make back-to-school not only a time of learning and growth but also a time of conscious choices and environmental responsibility.

Ready to #DitchPlasticPackaging? Share your back-to-school swaps with us today! Whether it be a parent shopping for your students or a teacher preparing their classroom, we want to see all of your plastic and foam-free ideas! Visit our Facebook Page and our Pinterest for inspiration.