school supplies

College Students – It’s Time for Back to School Shopping!

By Vanja Basaric

College Students- It’s Time for Back to School Shopping! Find Ways to Save Money AND help Protect the Environment!

With summer nearing its end, college students like me start thinking about supplies we need when going back to school. When I think of back to school shopping as a kid, I think about how excited I used to get when teachers sent out school supply checklists. I would eagerly run up to my mom telling her we had to go to the store THAT DAY, or all of the good supplies would be taken. I remember running through the store picking out the newest Backstreet Boys folders and gel pens so I could impress friends with my brand new supplies. But as much as I enjoyed back to school shopping, the older I got, the more I realized how pricey it can be.

For college students, back to school purchasing is more about housing, textbooks, and computers. As a graduate student, my back to school shopping this year means upgrading my computer, purchasing a mini-fridge to keep my snacks fresh, and ordering endless amounts of textbooks. Clearly, these needs require quite a hefty budget, but there are many ways that I have found throughout the years to keep costs down.

I’m also passionate about finding ways to help protect the environment when making my back to school purchases. For instance, I always make sure to buy appliances and products with the ENERGY STAR label .  Having my own apartment means paying for utilities, and this makes me even more energy and cost cautious. What impresses me about ENERGY STAR products is that they offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance or features. ENERGY STAR provides a list of products for your dorm room or apartment.

Other ways I save money on back to school shopping include buying electronic versions of my textbooks. Rather than spending a fortune on hard copies of the text, I just download the electronic version and easily access it on school computers. I’m amazed at how much money I’ve saved over the years by not buying name brand pens and notebooks and shopping at discount stores. Yes, this means giving up my beloved gel pens, but it also means saving money.

So whether you are going back to your dorm or finally moving off campus into your new place, remember these back to school shopping tips and save money while being mindful of our beautiful environment!

About the author: Vanja Basaric is a graduate student at James Madison University working towards a Master of Public Administration. She is currently a summer intern in the Office of Public Engagement.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Going Back to School…Go Green!

By Wendy Dew

Start off the new school year with a pledge to go green at school. There are many things you can do to go green:

  • Before starting a new school year, sort through the school supplies on-hand. Many things, like notebooks or pens and pencils, can be reused or recycled. You can share your used books and other school supplies with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren.
  • If you are purchasing new school supplies, look for items made out of recycled materials. Did you know you can get pencils made out of recycled jeans or money!
  • For school proms, dances, or other events, decorations and other supplies can be borrowed or rented. If you buy these supplies, try adopting a theme that can be used from year-to-year, so that you can reuse them.
  • Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Covering your textbooks with cut-up grocery or shopping bags helps reduce waste and keeps your books in good condition.
  • If you buy lunch, take and use only what you need: one napkin, one ketchup packet, one salt packet, one pepper packet, one set of flatware. Remember to recycle your cans and bottles, and separate your waste if your school has separation bins!
  • Help your school start or improve an existing recycling/composting program. Several earlier blogs on this site have examples of schools that successfully went green!
  • Create school hall monitors that patrol for lights out in rooms not being used…you could even give your teachers report cards on how energy efficient they are!

To find out more about what you can do to go green while going back to school check out our healthy school resources.

About the author: Wendy Dew is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.