5 Ways To Make This School Year More Sustainable

Whether your school year is already in full swing or about to get going for the year ahead, below are 5 ways to minimise your kids' environmental footprint.

School uniforms

Unfortunately it is a reality that many school uniforms are made unethically in order to make them affordable to families. At back to school time shirts are sold for as little as $2 at some department stores, barely covering production costs. Finding out whether your school uses fair trade suppliers is a great step in ensuring your kids are taking sustainability in their stride throughout the year.

Even if your school doesn't use fair trade suppliers, a great alternative is to buy second hand uniforms to ensure the life of these garments is extended before they end up in landfill. Alternatively, if buying new uniforms is your preferred option, choosing to wash them only as needed and repairing them along the way will minimise their lifetime energy and water usage while maximising their lifespan.

Lunch time

School aged kids already make good use of reusable containers, lunch boxes and drink bottles, but finding other ways to cut out packaging is just as important. If you usually pack individually wrapped snacks try to find smaller containers which you can decant bulk bags into, it not only cuts out a lot of plastic but is more economical too!

Make sure to find containers that work best for transporting particular foods to and from school. Try insulated or chilled containers in order to avoid food wastage when the kids refuse to eat a warm cheese sandwich!

When choosing the food that goes in your kids lunch box choose healthy, plastic free options or even better, make sure last night's leftovers go to good use!

Don't buy branded

This might be easier said than done when your kids think Elsa is their best friend for life, but chances are, mid-year Disney will have brought out a new princess. Try to avoid buying branded school supplies - they are less likely to go out of fashion when your kids friends get the latest and greatest.

Finding supplies in their favourite patterns or colours are likely to stay in use for longer and less likely to end up being one of the 6 billion pens thrown away every year in America!


Many schools require parents to fork out for a set list of supplies at the beginning of each year, instead of buying all new try to continue using those from the previous year. It goes without saying that a few items will get lost/stolen/broken but things like sharpeners, rulers and scissors are good contenders to make it into the new year.

Personalising school books with colourful contact paper has long been a tradition but wrapping them with paper is a great alternative. Finding printed wrapping paper or even DIY by painting your own onto plain brown wrap will still allow your kids to express their creative flair and protect their books, all while avoiding plastic.


Only a small portion of those that live close to a school will actually walk there, instead opting to use the car. Choosing to walk instead of using the car will benefit both your kids health as well as the environment.

Ever heard of a walking school bus? To combat some of the safety concerns that go with letting your kids walk to school, find other families on the same walking route to school. Picking them up along the way not only promotes community bonding but will also give them safety in numbers. On the days when the weather is not suitable to walk, hopping on the school bus or public transport will also minimise the individual carbon footprint of your commute.

Teaching children these valuable sustainability lessons will minimise their environmental impact well beyond their schooling years. By trying just one of the above practices you will be minimising your family's impact on the environment by using fewer resources, reducing waste and minimising emissions.

Find out ways to make school holidays sustainable too with these five ideas!

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