Student’s Corner

Back to School – Sustainably!

College move in can be a stressful time that leads to a lot of waste ending up in landfills. It’s important to be extra conscious of your decisions during back to school season to ensure that you aren’t generating too much waste and are being environmentally aware. This can even save you some money in the long run!

Plan ahead

Take some time to think about what you are truly going to need throughout the school year. Ask yourself if you need a bunch of new notebooks or if you’re comfortable taking notes on an electronic device. Think about what you need that you already have and what can be bought throughout the year as you need it.

Only bring what you need! 

When I first moved into college my freshman year (3 years ago, oh my!) I remember bringing every little thing I could possibly think of so that I would always be prepared. Unfortunately, this resulted in a lot of unused items that ended up in the garbage. Remember that every item you bring will also have to be taken out at the end of the year. Wait until you’re at school to invest in new purchases because you might realize you don’t need them or they don’t even fit in your dorm!

Reduce then reuse

If you’ve already packed the essentials and think you might need some extra things, try to see if you already have these items in your home or if they are offered at school. I always check my house for things like extra cold medicine, Advil, old notebooks, dishes and silverware and more. If I already have some and can snag them from home, that even saves me some money! Bringing reusable items like mugs, food containers and shopping bags can help remind you to stay environmentally conscious throughout the year.

Buy and donate used

If you’re looking to vamp up your wardrobe or decorate your room, check out thrift and secondhand shops! You can find a lot of really cool items here without continuously buying and ditching brand new items. UofR even has a table during move-in for buying old items that students have left behind. When you’re getting rid of your old things that are no longer needed and you don’t want to bring to school, donate them to these same places to reduce your landfill input and to give others a chance to use your stuff! 

Pack with reusable containers

Instead of packing your things in cardboard boxes or garbage bags that will be recycled or thrown out, utilize the storage you already have like laundry bins, totes, and suitcases. 


Happy back to school season!


Written by Olivia Giovannini Dolan, Class of 2020

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