Tackling your children’s back-to-school shopping list early provides a great opportunity for your kids to make considered choices that can help them make a real difference to the environment. And that’s exactly what they’ve got the motivation to do – according to a recent Unicef Australia report, environmental issues and climate change are currently Australian children’s top concerns. Choosing eco-friendly products, such as Officeworks' Greener Choices range, for their back-to-school kit puts kids in the (solar-powered!) driving seat and is an easy way for them to show how much they care. Here are some tips to make back-to-school shopping more sustainable. 

The Benefits of Buying Recycled Eco-Friendly Products

Choosing recycled products can be a big benefit for the environment. “Every tonne of paper and cardboard that is recycled reduces the release of 3.3 tonnes of greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere,” says Paul Brown, managing director of Ironbark Sustainability. “There is an absolute direct emission reduction when you buy recycled products, and it's quite significant.” He recommends buying recycled products or items that have been designed to break down easily and can be recycled, again and again. This will contribute to the circular economy and ensure the recycled material is used to its fullest. By choosing recycled exercise books, paper and great new eco ranges that use recycled products wherever possible, you are not only reducing your carbon footprint, you’re also creating more demand for eco-friendly products! 

SEE ALSO: How Officeworks’ Tree Planting Is Restoring the Environment

Carrying the Load: Eco Friendly Backpacks and Laptop Covers

Backpacks and laptop sleeves made from recycled PET bottles.
Backpacks and laptop sleeves made from recycled PET bottles.

Backpacks and laptop sleeves are a must-have for every child – and they can be a statement in style and a statement about sustainability. This eco-friendly recycled backpack is made from 15 recycled PET bottles, while this laptop sleeve is made from four recycled PET bottles, which goes a long way to keep plastic out of landfill and our oceans. According to Paul, choosing recycled plastic items over new/virgin plastic ones can have a huge impact. Studies from Stanford University show that our emissions could be at least 30% lower through the use of recycled plastic compared with creating plastic for the first time through fossil fuels. 

What To Try

SEE ALSO: BYOD: The Best Laptop for Students in 2022

The Write Way to Do Sustainable Stationery: Pens & Highlighters

Officeworks Highlighters and pens made from recycled plastic provide a greener choice.
Highlighters and pens made from recycled plastic provide a greener choice. 

While laptops and tablets are the ‘new’ classroom essentials, pens and highlighters are still important learning tools for all kids. And although small in size, after they’ve been used, they take up a whole lot of landfill en masse. 

Before topping up your back-to-school supply of pens and highlighters, conduct a whole-house audit to get a real-time guide to the number of pens you actually need to buy. Check the bottom of school bags, under beds and the back of drawers in all bedrooms, and test all products to see what needs to be replaced and which ones are past their use-by date. The good news is that pens and markers can be recycled at recycling stations in selected Officeworks stores as part of their Bring It Back program, which makes it easy to get rid of those pens in a more sustainable way.

For the kids’ back-to-school kit, consider highlighters and pens made from recycled plastic. These have dual eco benefits: preventing plastic waste from going to landfill as well as reducing the amount of resources used to make those products in the first place.

What To Try

SEE ALSO: How to Save on Back to School Supplies

Greener Choices Rule: Eco Friendly Rulers, Geometry Sets, Glue

Choose biodegradable starch glues and bamboo products for this back to school.
Choose biodegradable starch glues and bamboo products for this back to school.

As an eco-friendly back-to-school shopper, there are a few other things to look out for. Products with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification have been independently certified as being made from materials sourced through sustainable forestry practices. Officeworks Greener Choices program makes it easier to be sustainable because it highlights products that have sustainable credentials such as being plastic free, biodegradable, compostable or even vegan. 

Need more easy picks for back to school? Keep an eye out for non-toxic starch glues (which are biodegradable) and products made from bamboo, a biodegradable material that grows quickly and can be produced on a large scale with no pesticides and very little water. Bamboo can grow to maturity within a few years and, if it ends up in landfill, it can also biodegrade completely. 

What To Try

SEE ALSO: Inspiring Eco Craft Kit Ideas for Kids

Case Closed: Eco Friendly Recycled Pencil Cases

Recycled pencil cases are not only stylish but good for the environment as well.
Recycled pencil cases are not only stylish but good for the environment as well. 

A pencil case is essential for good organisation, especially when kids are heading back to school. No one wants a haphazard collection of pens and pencils floating around the bottom of their bag. Did you know that some pencil cases are also made of recycled materials? Every pencil case in Otto’s eco-friendly range is made from recycled 500ml plastic bottles (nearly one goes into the smaller case, almost two for the larger ones.) It makes these a savvy eco choice for organising your kids’ back-to-school essentials.

What To Try

SEE ALSO: Back-to-School Tips to Help You Get Organised

Starting Down the Greener Choices Road

While you’re packing their backpack, consider having a conversation with your child about how their new supplies are helping to protect our environment. It will put a smile on their face to know they’re taking small steps towards positive change.