5 Ways to Get a Sustainable Start to School


by Lan Nguyen Whether or not you’re ready to admit it, it’s that time of year again. The Norris bookstore line is longer than your last relationship, you’re scrambling to find a familiar face to sit next to in your new classes, and Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” is on repeat in your headphones. Yup, it’s the start of a new school year.

Sadly, the beginning of a school year can be quite pricey – both for your wallet and for the earth. In addition to abusing Amazon Prime for your dorm/apartment supplies, you have to stock up on textbooks and school supplies. Here are some tips on how to be more sustainable as you’re getting ready for the 2015-2016 year.

Buy sustainable products

Photo Sep 22, 11 09 17 AMCheck out these pens made out of recycled water bottles; you can get them at Evanston’s local CVS for less than $5. Target also has an array of sustainable school supplies, such as these as these notebooks with recycled paper. Or, if you like to shop online and support artists, check out these pencil pouches made from recycled candy wrappers.  Not only will you look super hip as you’re pulling these out of your backpack, but you can also feel good about helping the earth!

Stop buying new, hard-copy textbooks

Photo Sep 22, 10 06 25 PMNew textbooks are extremely expensive, and they’re also wasteful when there are other alternatives. You can buy used textbooks from bookstores, online, or from other students for much cheaper, while also helping out some trees. Another alternative is to use e-books, which saves paper, money, and a lot of weight in your backpack.



Reuse notebooks from last year


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I don’t know about you, but I have never filled up an entire notebook with notes just from ten weeks of class. Rather than just throwing out a half-used notebook, rip out the used pages or make a tab and start taking notes in the unused pages. Additionally, if you’re taking a higher-level class, having the notes from your intro course might even come in handy!
























Refill pens

Photo Sep 23, 10 46 07 AMInstead of buying a new pack of pens because all your ink is used up, buy pen refills (which can be found in office stores or online) and replace the ink to avoid consuming all the plastic that goes into making new pens. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 1.6 billion pens end up landfills every year, so you can play a small role by reusing your pens.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Try out a new eco-club

10751699_1511433992445591_470205650_nA new year means new opportunities! Think about making a difference and helping out the environment by joining a student group on campus. Check out the wide array of environmental clubs at the Activities Fair this Sunday, or think about contributing to Northwestern’s environmental publication (hint, hint)!