From: Worldwatch Institute, Alana Herro
Published September 3, 2007 08:25 AM

Back to School, Eco-Style

The back-to-school rush is on. If you’re a college or university student eager to help save the planet, you may want to consider carefully the impact of your return to campus. From recycled school supplies to local food, environmentally savvy students have lots of options for lightening their eco-footprints:

* School supplies. Reusing old binders, staplers, and even notebooks is a good way to cut down on unnecessary consumerism. Companies like The Remarkable Factory, a United Kingdom-based company, also offer a range of recycled supplies, including binders, erasers, highlighters, notebooks, pens, pencils, staplers, and more.

* Books and clothing. When possible, buying used books is the more sustainable (and cheaper!) option. Buying used is also a great choice when picking out your back-to-school wardrobe. Check out thrift stores or consignment shops to find great-looking buys. If you do opt for new clothes, more eco-friendly lines such as those highlighted recently in Grist magazine may be for you. For shoes with a smaller footprint, Ideal Bite has several suggestions.

* Transportation. If you live off campus, walking, biking, or using public transportation to get to and from class is, of course, better for the planet than driving your car. To save trips back and forth, consider bringing your lunch with you to campus—but remember to use a durable, reusable bag to carry it!

* Dorm décor. When outfitting your dorm room, IKEA is not your only option, though the company does offer plenty of eco-friendly items. Also look online at sites like Craig’s List or join your local Freecycle group to search for furnishings and decorations. See if you can talk your roommate into replacing standard incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). And before stocking up on toxic cleaning agents, remember that soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, and a coarse scrubbing sponge are all you really need to tackle even the toughest cleaning jobs.


To extend your eco-consciousness to the entire campus, first find out how your school rates on the U.S. College Sustainability Report Card or on the international list compiled by University Leaders for a Sustainable Future. For examples of what other schools and universities have done to lighten their planetary footprints, check out Worldwatch’s coverage of U.S. Campus Greening Initiatives.

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.

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