Back to School!

Recycling Explained

It’s back to school time! How can you be environmentally conscious as you start the school year with all your new swag? Check out our 8 tips for “greening” up your back to school time:

  1. Shop Smart – If you have any supplies left to purchase, look for those with less packaging and any made with recycled materials.
  2. Reuse What You Can –  School supplies don’t have an expiration date, and when you’re in the middle of the back-to-school craze, it’s easy to forget the binders, loose leaf paper, pencils and scissors you already have at home. Take an inventory of what you already have to save you money and reduce your waste.
  3. Become a Lunch Packing Pro – Skip the plastic baggies, plastic water bottles and throw away juice boxes and use reusable food and drink containers instead- bonus points for using a cloth napkin and reusable utensils! Make sure to label your containers so they’re harder to lose. If you do include disposable containers, check what the school’s recycling program consists of- In Sioux Falls it should be single stream– and keep your packaging within the recyclable categories. If your school doesn’t practice recycling, ask them why! The more parents and kids who speak up the more likely a program will be started. For the food itself, buy snacks in bulk to reduce packaging waste, include more fresh fruit and less packaged food, and only pack only as much food as your child will eat!
  4. Recycle That Homework – Students and teachers go through lots of paper. Make sure you recycle all those worksheets, test papers and unwanted art projects in your single stream recycling bin! Avoid too much paint, tape or glue when recycling paper, but color from markers, crayons and pencils is fine! See more details on paper recycling rules here.
  5. Take the Greener Route – Walking or biking is the best way to get to school, taking a bus is next, and carpooling is also a good option. If you must drive your kids solo, get your vehicle in for its annual fall tune up, oil change and tire check to improve your gas mileage and environmental footprint.
  6. Avoid the Tech Trap – Electronics can get a little out of hand – Children are often targeted by marketing campaigns to get the best of the best, even if those gadgets will be obsolete by Christmas. Don’t fall into the trap! Kids don’t really need a laptop, cell phone and a tablet. Consider refurbished equipment from local stores like Bargain Bytes to save yourself money and stand up to the e-waste crisis. If you do end up buying new, make sure you recycle any old equipment with the Sioux Falls Household Hazardous Waste Facility or with SEAM.
  7. Donate What You Can – Encourage kids to take good care of their backpacks, folders, cell phones and other items to last longer and save you money, but what you end up not needing, donate to a local thrift store or organization! Usable school supplies like crayons, markers, paints, paper and workbooks can be donated to a local day care, pre-school, day camp or art program.
  8. Set an Example– If you make recycling and reusing part of your daily life at home it will become second nature to your kids.  Encourage them to spread the word to their friends and teachers about good recycling habits both in the home and at school.


Have a question on something you want to recycle, but aren’t sure if it should go in the bin? Check out our Where Do I Take This tool or Contact Us! We are here to help and love hearing your questions.