It’s that time of year once again – the summer holidays are almost over and it’s time for the school year to start! Here are some ways you can be ready for the new academic year and reduce waste at the same time!

1. School Uniform

If items of clothing still fit, consider reusing them this school year. Following manufacturer’s instructions when washing clothes and treating stains will keep them in good condition for longer. Making small repairs and adjustments to existing items such as trousers and jumpers are a good way to extend their lifespan.

Had a growth spurt over the summer? Consider buying second-hand pieces of uniform, or organising a swap between friends or at school. Second hand pieces of uniform can often be found on online sites such as Facebook and Gumtree.

2. Reusing supplies from last year

If you have any stationery or school items such as stationery, backpacks or lunchboxes that are still in good condition, they can be reused again this school year.

If you do need to replace items, consider durable, long-lasting items that can withstand daily wear and tear such as metal bottles and lunch boxes. Although they may be initially more expensive, higher quality items will last much longer and are a good investment. Some items such as backpacks even have lifetime guarantees! Items made from recycled or reused materials are also a good alternative, such as pencils and backpacks.

3. Zero waste lunches

Lunchtimes can be a big source of waste due to food packaging. Some easy swaps can help cut down on waste.

  • Buying things in bulk or larger quantities can help cut down on unnecessary packaging. Portion out and pack in a small reusable tub. (Examples of this include cutting pieces of cheese from a larger block, spooning out yogurt from a larger tub into a small reusable pot.)
  • A reusable water bottle can be refilled throughout the day.
  • Beeswax wraps and reusable bags and tubs can be a good alternative to cling film and tin foil.

Check out our Zero Waste Lunchbox for tasty lunchbox ideas!

4. Labelling personal items

Using name labels, tags or writing names on belongings can help you track them down when they get lost! This is a simple tip but will save you having to replace items if they get lost in school.

5. Recycling

If there’s a piece of equipment or clothing that is no longer needed, recycle it! Local councils have begun to resume textile collections, which were suspended temporarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Check if your local kerbside collection accepts clothes and textiles – check your local collection here. Textiles can also be taken to textile banks and HWRC’s. Items can also be sold on websites such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree.

Items such as pens, highlighters, markers and correction fluids can be taken to a local Terracycle Writing Instruments collection point. Check where your local collection point is here.

School shirts hanging on a clothes rail
A stack of three books with a green apple on top, next to a blue spotted school rucksack, with two pencils and a ruler sticking out from the pocket.
Reusable lunchbox with drinks bottle and fruit
Close up image of a ballpoint pen nib signing a piece of paper
Assorted stationery laid across a notebook page

Check out our 3R’s page for more tips on how to reduce, reuse and recycle at school and at home.