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All three of my children wear the sports shorts for PE at school, and they wash brilliantly, all the uniforms still look as good as new. I would definitely recommend to friends.

Leighanne, Mum of three

20 Eco-Friendly Back-To-School Tips To Be More Sustainable

The new school year is upon us, and for many families stocking up on back-to-school supplies and planning the new journey to school is on the to-do-list.  

In 2018, the Education Secretary urged schools to eliminate their use of single use plastics by 2022. Whilst schools are working towards achieving this goal, parents can also consider how they too can play their part in creating an eco-friendlier school day.  

1.6 billion pens end up in landfill each year and like many back to school staples, plastic remains to be the predominant material used. By approaching the start of term with an eco-conscious mindset, parents can make small changes which can make a big difference to the environment in the long run.  

Kathryn Shuttleworth, our Managing Director here at  David Luke, offers parents alternative and sustainable back to school ideas which can easily be adopted by families. As we edge closer to the beginning of term, these tips will not only help to reduce plastic waste but also carbon emissions, making the school day better for the environment overall.  

A mum wrapping her childs sandwich in bees wax wrap to be sustainable

1. Bees Wax Sandwich Wraps

Bees Wax sandwich wraps are a great zero waste alternative to tin foil and cling film as its natural, biodegradable, and reusable. Currently, tin foil requires aluminium mining, whilst the majority of local authorises cannot yet recycle cling film, making them unsustainable. 

2. Second Hand Uniform

Recycling outgrown garments is a great way to help increase the sustainability of school uniform. Using school swap shops, online marketplaces or buying uniform from sustainable brands helps to not only reduce textile waste but can also save you money along the way.  

mum putting vegetables in their compost bin at home.

3. Create a Home Compost Bin

It’s been reported that 80K tonnes of food waste is produced in schools across England, with almost half of it being fruit and veg waste. One simple way parents can help to reduce this waste is to encourage their kids to bring home their packed lunch waste so you can put them in a compost bin. Not only is it great for your soil, but it will also reduce methane from landfills and lower your carbon emission.  

4. Reflect and Repair

Often, we’re too quick to throw away clothes at the first sign of wear and tear. However, whether you have access to a sewing machine or just a trusty old needle and thread you can easily repair lost buttons, fallen hems and holes formed on your favourite items.

leftover food for kids school lunches

5. Left Over Lunches

It’s always a stressful morning when you’re trying to get your child’s packed lunch together. So why not take the stress out of your morning and use last night’s left-over dinner for lunch. This will help reduce the amount of food waste in landfill as well as the methane emissions they produce.
 

6. Upcycle Uniform

With TikTok and YouTube at your disposal, people are producing more creative and innovative ways to make the most out of your pre-loved wardrobe. Did you know you can extend the life of trousers by turning them into shorts for the summer? With some simple hemming, ankle-skimming trousers can be given a new lease of life. 

7. Upcycle Crisp and Cereal Bags into Food Wraps

Want a cheaper alternative to bees wax sandwich wraps? Why not upcycle an empty share bag of crisps or the empty plastic bag which once held cereal in. There are many online tutorials which can guide you on how to reuse and recycle these every day household objects. The bonus is its free as well more sustainable.  

8. Plantable Pencils

The new eco-friendly stationary on the market is plantable pencils. Once you’ve reached the pencil stub, you can plant them to grow into flowers, vegetables, herbs and even spruce trees whilst the rest of the pencil biodegrades.  

9. Bamboo Pens

1.6 billion pens currently end up in landfill and are mainly made by plastic. You can now purchase bamboo wood fountain pens which are reusable or single purchase. These are much better for the environment as they are completely biodegradable.  

10. Highlighter Pencils

Most highlighter pens are made from plastic. A great biodegradable option is highlighter pencils, which retain the same florescent colour without the plastic. 

 

11. Buy Used Textbooks

Before going to the shops or ordering brand new textbooks, reach out to other parents, online marketplaces and even the school. They might be selling used textbooks for cheap or even better…for free.  

12. Dry Erase/Chalk Board Calendars

Family calendars are a must in every busy household. However, instead of buying paper calendars and organisers why not buy a chalk board or whiteboard which you can keep and reuse. This helps to reduce paper waste which can build up over the year and provides you with a more sustainable, long-term product.  

13. Reusable Water Bottle and Packed Lunch Box

On average, 80% of plastic bottles end up going into landfill. To help reduce this waste, buying reusable stainless steel or bamboo bottles are a great alternative product to plastic bottles. Likewise, lunch boxes made from these materials are also the perfect sustainable solution.   

recycled and sustainable paper back notebook with pen and leaves.

14. Recycled Paper Back Notebook

Mass paper production requires deforestation and a huge amount of energy and water usage, causing air pollution. By buying recycled paper back notebooks, not only are you reducing the production on new paper but also plastic found in many hardback and covered notebooks

15. Street Carpools

Most families will live close to other children going to and from the same school. This summer is the perfect time to make friends with the neighbouring families and arranged carpool lifts to school. By reducing the number of vehicles on the road, you’ll be helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve overall air quality.  

16. The Perfect Pick-Up Spot

Liaise with your child on a dedicated parking spot to pick them up from close to the school. Keeping your engine idling whilst waiting for you child to come out can produce up to twice the number of emissions of a car in motion. These fumes contain harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide, which contributes heavily to climate change.

 Children walking into school, one with a bike.

17. Alternative Modes of Transport

Whether it’s taking the bus, cycling, or walking to school, by encouraging your child to take alternative modes of transport you can help reduce transport pollution drastically. 

18. Utilise School Clubs 

Whether it’s breakfast or after school clubs, by encouraging your child to take up a hobby or get in early, not only will they learn and enjoy a new skill, but you’ll also be able to pick them up out of rush hour. This can be a fantastic way to save fuel and reduce idling and emissions when traveling as the roads are less busy.

 Woman removing clutter from her car boot ready for school.

19. Remove Clutter from the Boot

Before going on the school run, be sure to have emptied your car of any heavy bags or items which might have been used over the weekend. This can help make your school run more fuel efficient – though it might be a small change, every little helps.  

20. Label everything!

Its all great investing in sustainable notebooks and lunch boxes, however we know what children are like. It’s likely that they will leave them around the school and potentially lose them. Therefore, making sure everything is labelled with your child’s name on it means its more likely to be returned and won’t require you to purchase new again.  

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We need to do more to prevent waste to landfill. Supporting markets for recycled products is important.

Mrs Dixon, parent

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