Back to School - Green Style

Aug 20, 2010

Whether you're a returning student or getting ready for your first year at college, the back to school season can be full of a surprising amount of waste. Don't miss these tips from the director of sustainability at Wake Forest University for getting back to campus in an eco-friendly fashion.

school books

1. School Supplies

When shopping for school supplies, don't forget that old adage, 'reduce, reuse, recycle!' You can reduce by buying one or two sectional notebooks for all your classes, reuse by bringing that old backpack into style and recycle by seeking out pens, paper and notebooks with post-consumer recycled content.

2. Hot Wheels

Bringing your car to campus can cost you a lot of money in insurance, parking and gas - not to mention damage to the environment. Many campuses are easily accessible by public transportation or student shuttle. And for those times you really need a vehicle, check to see if a car-sharing program like Zipcar has a parking spot on your campus or near your residence. Also, if your family's driving you to school, try to fit everyone and everything into just one car. It's like packing Tetris!

3. Campus Resources

Before you pack, find out what might be waiting for you on campus. Many schools have offices of sustainability that can provide you with re-usable shopping bags, recycling bins and even re-usable water bottles!

4. Pack Smart

Don't waste a ton of cardboard boxes or plastic bags. Pack your stuff into reusable plastic crates (get 'em stackable and they'll double as storage when you get there) or items you already need like pillowcases.

5. Wrap it Up

Forget bubble wrap: Your fragile items like picture frames will be even safer wrapped in towels or T-shirts. You can pad larger items with pillows or blankets and hold it all together with an extension cord.

Packing for School

6. Filed Under 'Sustainable'

Pack your school supplies in re-usable file crates. They make a great organizational system for schoolwork throughout the term, and even come with handles for easy carrying.

7. Call Ahead

Contact your future roommates or dormies to find out what common items you don't need to buy or bring. You'd be surprised at how many items you might end up duplicating, such as tool kits, television, rugs and kitchen appliances.

8. Keep it Clean

Sharing a shower? Bring your toiletries in a handy shower basket that you can reuse to drag everything to and from the bathroom. You can even pack the shower basket in your laundry basket to make that game of car-packing Tetris a little easier.

9. Boxed Up

Even the most clever packer will probably end up with a couple of cardboard boxes. Rather than buying them new, check the produce section of your local grocery store - many give away sturdy old fruit boxes by the bushel. And once you get there, don't just cram 'em into the dumpster. Take them to a designated collection site on campus to recycle - many of these sites will also recycle Styrofoam and other packaging materials.

10. Stay Cool

In many parts of the country, move-in day can be hot, hot, hot! Don't forget to bring re-usable water bottles with you to keep yourself and your moving helpers hydrated without buying a bunch of plastic bottles.

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