Back to School Sustainability

Back-to-School: Sustainable Shift ‘Shopping’

Back-to-School supplies

To good news is that more parents and kids want to tread lighter on the planet. Purchase habits prove it. A new study found that 50% of parents are opting for sustainable back-to-school purchases this year. So why not try back-to-school sustainable shifts?

Eco-friendly school supplies are a great start.

But what we know about climate change is that we need more than eco-friendly purchases. We need long-term habits that reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

At Tiny Planet we are interested in the day-to-day sustainable shifts that can reduce the pollution that worsens climate change. Breaking planet-friendly shifts down into small, repeatable changes makes it easier to start and adds up to a bigger impact over time.

So let’s dive into some sustainable shifts you can make this back-to-school season!

Seasons of Change

Whether you have just started school or are about to start school, it’s a major adjustment that can take a few weeks to settle into a new routine.

This is a PERFECT time to think about shifts you can make to not only reduce stress but also pollution. As a refresher, the biggest categories making up our daily carbon footprint include transportation, food, buying stuff, throwing stuff away, and home energy consumption.

With the back-to-school season, we are already transitioning so much with schedules and habits. It’s the perfect time to go back-to-school sustainable shift shopping:


Car pooling to school

Sharing rides with parents or caregivers nearby is a great way to reduce carbon pollution. Even better? It can help clear up your schedule a few mornings or afternoons a week and give you a snapshot of how your kids are socializing. Even carpooling 2x a week can add up to a big difference over a school year!

Wondering where to start? Put an ask out for carpool matches online in neighborhood groups, with your child’s school, or local ride-share match program (usually in partnership with your public transit system).

Try Biking to School

While not a great fit for longer commutes, biking is doable for many families. Not only does it have a lower carbon footprint than driving, but it’s also just a fun way to get around town. Plus studies link biking with many mental and physical health benefits. Better sleep, lower anxiety, and improved creative thinking are just some of the side benefits of this low-carbon way to travel.

Interested in biking to school but don’t want to do it alone? Check out this guide to starting a Bike Train! Getting more folks involved can help motivate you to bike more frequently, feel safer on the road, and help prevent even more carbon pollution!

Do you have younger kids that might not be up for peddling the full distance? Here are a few good options to explore: trailers, cargo bikes, eBikes, or tag-along-bikes. If you opt for eBikes make sure you have the bike inspected once a year by a local professional and don’t forget to have MIPS helmets for all riders.

Get choosy about extracurriculars

Clubs and classes outside of school are wonderful ways to help your child develop new skills or learn more about the world. But over-committing with too many extracurriculars can lead to a lot of extra driving time. Trimming down commitments to ones that are closer to home can also deepen the special feeling of the experience. Plus, who doesn’t want an offramp to being stuck in stressful traffic.

Plant-based lunches

Plant-based lunches give kids the fuel they need.

The biggest way to fork over carbon pollution in your diet is to reduce meat, especially red meats.

Swap out that ham and cheese for cheesy noodles with veggies, tater tot veggie casserole, or simple hummus with plant-based sides. Plant-rich lunches can be delicious and give your kids the nutrients to keep them fueled to learn.

Need some inspiration? We love this list of lunch ideas for kids to prep their meals or these very simple lunchbox ideas.

After School Walk, Roll, or Rides

Routines to build into your afternoons or evenings can look different depending on schedules. But making a habit on certain days or most days to walk, roll, or ride to a nearby park or favorite destination is a great planet-friendly practice. Whether before dinner or bedtime, it can help you feel more connected to your corner of the planet and the people you share it with, help you unplug from devices, and enjoy more natural surroundings all while getting a bit of light exercise.

Better moods, improved sleep, and less pollution — win, win!

Looking for more inspiration and motivation to make sustainable shifts this fall?

We are releasing new sticker sheets in September — fully compostable and recyclable!! These simple illustrations make it easy for individuals and families to start or keep up back-to-school sustainable shifts to reduce carbon pollution.

Pick a sticker to try or repeat, add it to your calendar, and add a check or heart after you complete. Use the QR code to access a month-long free trial of My Carbon Counter and see the pollution you prevent add up week to week!

Click here to be the first to access our stickers!

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