Step into sustainability for back-to-school season

It’s a good time to start new routines that make real and lasting change in our community and the world.

  • By Karissa Miller Waste Management
  • Friday, August 26, 2022 1:30am
  • Life

By Karissa Miller / WM

After a long summer of sunny days, it’s time to settle back into the routine of another school year.

Back-to-school season is the perfect time to kick off new sustainable habits. Challenging your family to minimize waste by focusing on reducing, reducing, and recycling is a fun way to make a big impact while teaching your kid about sustainability.

A waste-free lunch is a great place to start. Try a reusable lunch box that your kid will love and look forward to using.

Spare your wallet and the planet by ditching the individually packaged snacks. Instead, buy in bulk and package your own portions in reusable containers. These can be reusable zip-top bags, food storage containers, or even tubs repurposed after the yogurt or sour cream is gone.

Do a lunch box audit to consider other green opportunities. Switching to reusable silverware is an easy way to cut back on single-use plastics, as is choosing a stylish reusable water bottle over disposables.

As the cherry on top, packing a cloth napkin saves hundreds of disposables napkins each year. This means saving trees every time your child opens their lunchbox.

Has your kid outgrown their backpack, school clothes or snow boots? Donating them to a thrift store is a great option to reduce waste, and so is shopping at one! As kids outgrow clothes so quickly, many items are still in excellent shape and just waiting for a new family. You never know what you’ll find.

Better yet, host a clothing swap with friends or neighbors. This makes for a fun experience, taking home new-to-you clothes — all while not spending a dime.

Buying school supplies is another opportunity to go green. Look for notebooks and planners made from recycled content.

Still have homework from last year filling up the backpack? Don’t forget to recycle that paper to give it a new life for another child’s drawing, poem or paper airplane. Save notebooks that have writing on only one side for use as scrap paper or a doodle pad. The trees will thank you!

Another energizing way to step up sustainability at school is to share your recycling passion with teachers and classmates. Talk to teachers about hosting a virtual field trip to WM’s Cascade Recycling Center. These virtual tours are offered on a regular basis by WM sustainability experts and provide a glimpse into what happens after recyclables leave the curb. Visit the WM website for details.

Sustainability doesn’t stop when the school day ends. Take the opportunity to refresh your home recycling system by labeling bins, to remind everyone what goes where. You can even print labels from the WM website.

The hot weather is behind us, and the homework projects are ahead. This year, let’s embrace this transition as a time to start new routines that make real and lasting change in our community and the world.

Karissa Miller is WM’s recycling education and outreach manager. For tips on recycling and waste reduction, visit the WM website –

Talk to us

More in Life

Weather, rain, geraniums: A gardener gives thanks

Take a minute and reflect on what you are grateful for in your garden, and then share the gratitude with your fellow gardeners.

Festive Christmas wreath of fresh natural spruce branches with red holly berries isolated on white background. New Year. Top view. Traditional decoration for Xmas holiday.
Get in the holiday swing of things — make a wreath

Area garden centers have the greenery and equipment so you can make a one-of-a-kind decoration for your home.

Kara (Gwynn Hawley) and her mom Jessie (Shaylyn Reed) connect with friends over Zoom in “A Miracle on 34th Street,” playing November 25-December 18 at the Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

“A Miracle of 34th Street” updates the Christmas classic to COVID-19 times. It opens Friday in Marysville.

Caption: Curbside delivery at Kindred Kitchen in Everett made cooking dinner a whole lot easier. (Jennifer Bardsley)
A quick trip to Everett helps put dinner on the table

Kindred Kitchen on Broadway offers delicious, affordable meal kits — supporting a local humanitarian cause.

Taxus baccata 'Standishii', commonly called Standishii golden yew, and the image credit goes to Richie Steffen.
Great Plant Pick: Columnar golden yew

This slow-growing evergreen creates a low-maintenance vertical element in the garden.

Stylized shapes, light wood, bold blocks of color and unusual construction are characteristics of modern furniture. This flame rocking chair shows all four.
Modern furniture took flight just after WWII ended

This rocking chair was auctioned to raise money for a group that preserves modern residential architecture.

May everyone around your table have peace this Thanksgiving

It’s not uncommon for the holiday season to be a complex mixture of sweet and salty flavors. But ultimately, it’s all about love.

Croatia’s romantic Rovinj has Venetian vibes, but a breezy charm that’s all its own.
Rick Steves’ Europe: From hill towns to harbors, Istria pleases

It’s an inviting mix of pungent truffles, Roman ruins, striking hill towns and pastel coastal villages.

American Cruise Lines protection plan isn’t protecting him

Edward Marks buys a “cancel for any reason” protection plan for his cruise. But when he has to cancel, he finds that it’s worthless. What went wrong?

Most Read