Day 23: School Supplies

Plastic Free Challenge: Day 23

School Supplies


It might be mid-summer, but school is just around the corner. And school supplies are riddled with plastic and plastic packaging. Luckily, for students of all ages, there are sustainable options.

The facts:

According to The Guardian, “Bic, the company that has made a fortune out of things to be thrown away, has sold its 100 billionth disposable ballpoint – selling an average of 57 pens every second since it was launched in 1950.” Source.

57 subpar pens that don’t write well, every single second. How many are getting thrown out?

Here are some tips:

Whenever possible, store information electronically, not on paper! Notes, schedules, ideas, you name it, these things often get jotted down on fresh pieces of paper.  In a pinch, use scrap paper, but whenever possible, store information on your phone or computer.

Speaking of computers, it’s difficult to get around not owning one these days. Maybe you have a tablet instead, that’s fine, too. We’re not here to judge. Some schools require their students purchase specific laptops. But when your laptop, tablet, or phone die, and they will, if you can’t fix it, or sell it to someone who can, make sure you are recycling your e-waste responsibly! Find out how YOUR community disposes of e-waste with a simple google search.

What is e-waste?

e-waste is electronic waste, and ranges from computers to appliances and every electronic gadget in between. Remember your 1994 Tamagotchi? Yeah, well, it’s dead now. (You stopped feeding it for over a decade, what did you expect?) Now, it’s Tama-e-waste.

E-waste is EXTREMELY toxic and must be handled properly to ensure safety. Unfortunately, a lot of this e-waste ends up in developing nations overseas.

How does e-waste end up overseas?

E-waste is bought, sold, and/or dumped in numerous countries overseas, like China. We are literally shipping our toxic electronic junk to accumulate in other nation’s landfills.

How does it effect humans?

Exposure to e-waste sites in these countries has been making locals extremely sick and causing birth defects, like muscle spasms. These toxins and metals that leach from the e-waste sites are highly carcinogenic.


Sustainable School Supply Companies:


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Companies like Wisdom Supply Co.  offer earth-friendly school supplies shipped sustainably, from pencils to paper to rulers. This company is going above and beyond to reduce plastic packaging for schools. Well done!



Back-to-School Clothes and Back Packs

Head to the thrift store!


Only got $20 in your pocket?

For back-to-school clothes, shoes, bags, and back packs, check your local thrift store before buying something brand new.  (We will have a whole post dedicated to thrift stores and swap-meets in a few days!)


Lunch Time



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If your school cafeteria doesn’t have sustainable options for lunch, like metal silverware and reusable trays, opt out and pack your own. Some schools are still using styrofoam for serving meals. Not only is styrofoam (polystyrene)  not recyclable, it is toxic for our bodies, and it is toxic to the environment.

Any lunch box you have will do! But if you are looking to buy one, I suggest stainless steel. They’re plastic free, they pack well, and they’re sturdy!

Spanish rice, home made chips and salsa, and paprika biscuits

These stainless steel lunch boxes are available in various sizes with different sized compartments and are available at most whole foods stores and co-ops. They’re also great for the beach and picnics!

Now, are you ready to be inspired?

Watch how this Japanese school handles their lunch waste:

Imagine if every school did this!

An inspirational note from a zero waste teacher, right here in the Bay:

One great example I’d like to share: Jacqueline Omania is a 3rd grade teacher in Berkeley. She’s my hero, I’m lucky to know her: she included zero waste in her program and now 24 3rd graders will grow up knowing exactly how to reduce waste everywhere they go. This is truly beautiful, learn more here

(Written by Stephanie at


Zero Wasting in College?

We got you covered: tips for college students




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