An eco-friendly backpack can come in many forms. Whether it’s recycled material, pure cotton or hemp, or sustainably made, eco-friendly backpacks can be found almost anywhere, all you have to do is some research over backpacks sold in your area. Personally, I prefer buying backpacks online, but if you prefer to buy in person, find bags or brands you like online and find where they are sold in person. In college, backpacks are a necessity and not to mention expensive, so when looking for an eco-friendly backpack, make sure it well made or durable and eco-friendly. Durability may not seem like something you would need to look for in an eco-friendly backpack, but having to buy a new backpack every year counteracts any amount of sustainability or eco-friendliness put into that bag because it’s ending up in the trash every 12 months. Durability is very much a factor in sustainability because it keeps things like backpacks and many other things out of landfills and junkyards. However, having an eco-friendly, sustainable, durable backpack doesn’t mean you have to give up fashion or sign away your whole bank account. Many brands now are making eco-friendly bags such as Fjallraven Kanken and Baggu. Fjallraven Kanken has a new line of adventure backpacks called Re-Kanken ($90) and is made entirely of plastic water bottles, and when it is time to throw away the bag, it can actually be recycled. Baggu makes many kinds of bags and most notably they make reusable grocery bags ($22) made from reused sail material. Their drawstring backpacks ($42), however, are not made from sail material but 100% recycled cotton canvas.
Pens, pencils, paper, and notebooks are all necessities for college classes, but there are ways to make them reusable and eco-friendly. I am currently in college and the three kinds of supplies I use the most are pens, pencils, and notebooks. When looking for pens, look for pens that can be recycled such as Jetpens, which are also eco-friendly, and made of 60% post-consumer product. For pens to be the most recyclable they can be, be sure to use all of the ink before recycling. Pencils have more variety when it comes to recyclability and eco-friendliness. Pencils generally come in two forms: mechanical and wooden. With mechanical, there are two main kinds, plastic, and metal. They work the same way and are both recyclables in the end but can last for years without replacement. Wooden pencils, however, last much for a much shorter time but do not require lead refills and are not recyclable. When it comes to choosing pencil types, mechanical is much more eco-friendly, especially if it is metal. Notebooks and paper are the most recyclable and versatile item for college supplies. There are many websites now like Stuvia where you can sell your notes and make a little money from it too, but you can also recycle your notebooks in most recycling programs now too. To get the most out of an eco-friendly notebook is to look for paper made from post-consumer products, made of paper covers and not plastic covers, and the use of soy or vegetable-based ink. There are many small brands that can be found at office supplies stores, Target, Amazon, and on college campuses that offer eco-friendly notebooks.
Buying supplies, books, and paper is inevitable in college, but there are eco-friendly ways to dispose or get rid of some of the things you had to buy over the course of the semester. Recycling is one just one option college students have to dispose of or get rid of their supplies they don’t need anymore. Different forms of ‘recycling’ your supplies can be selling your old textbooks or books back or to other book buying companies, selling your notes as I mentioned before, or renting books and supplies rather than buying them. All of these options can give your books, notes, and supplies a new life after you’re done using them, and can even help the next person at college. Websites like Bookscouter make it easy to find the best deal for selling your lightly used textbooks. Personally, I do my best to rent all of my textbooks because I have found through a few experiences of selling my books that it is much safer and more reliable to rent my textbooks for 12 weeks rather than scouring the internet for a reliable textbook buyback program. If you do have to buy your textbooks, selling your book is the next best option. Conventional recycling is always an option, but it not the most economical option when pinching pennies in college.
4.Opt for Online Textbooks and Books
Online textbooks and books are a lifesaver in college because not only are online versions of textbooks and books often much cheaper than the paperback version and you can carry them with you wherever you go with no extra weight in your backpack. Online versions are also the most eco-friendly option for books because it saves paper too. In my experience in college, online textbooks are the best and easiest way to be eco-friendly with your supplies and are my personal favorite version of textbooks. Many textbooks don’t require a special download or app for your computer, but that also means you need wifi to use these textbooks (which most college offer for free around the campus nowadays). As for books, I buy them on Amazon for a super discounted price and have them sent to my Kindle app on my phone so I can access my books whenever I need to.