Back to School

Students sitting at their desks in a classroom

A #WasteNothing lesson in going back to school

We are here to share our tips of how to #WasteNothing as you prepare for the new school year. There are lots of ways you can find the things you need whilst minimising waste and saving money.

Uniforms and kit

Care for the kit you have

Are you using the best settings when washing uniforms to extend their life? If an item of clothing is broken, can you repair it to keep it in use?

Love Your Clothes has helpful guides on how to care for different fabrics, and how to fix zippers, patch holes, and much more. There is also a handy stain removal section.

Keep it in use

If you find yourself with good quality uniform that just doesn’t fit anymore, then passing it on to another student is a great option. Likewise, finding pre-loved items for your family can save you money and reduce your impact.

  • Ask if your school has a take back scheme. If not, why not suggest they start one?
  • If it’s branded, ask charity shops within your school catchment area, if they accept and sell it. It’s likely other parents donate and shop there too, so you can drop off items and look for new ones.
  • Bristol Uniform Exchange have a Facebook page where you can swap or buy quality, pre-loved uniform, bags and more. They also provide free items if you’re struggling to cover the cost.
  • Try your local community Facebook pages where there may be other families from the same schools looking to give or get uniforms.
  • Old School Uniform is an online platform founded by parents where you can give away or sell your unwanted school uniforms items. You can search by school name and see what’s available.
Don’t let it go to waste

If you have uniform which is worse for wear and can’t be reused, then you can recycle it. Some charity shops, clothing banks, and in-store collection points accept non-reusable, damaged textiles or rags.

These donations do still need to be clean, so should be washed and dried before donation. Put them in a bag clearly labelled “rags”. Check with individual locations first.


Keep it in use
  • Scrapstores are a great place to look for craft materials and stationery. As well as having scrap items, they often have new arts and crafts materials on sale.
  • If you are buying new stationary, look for items with reusable components:
    • Fountain pens with refillable ink cartridges
    • Biro refills so you can replace the central part when the ink runs out.
  • Try local buying and selling groups on Facebook, Freecycle and Gumtree.
Don’t let it go to waste

When your stationary runs out or dries up you can recycle it via TerraCycle’s Writing Instruments Recycling Programme. They will accept any brand of pen, highlighter, marker and correction fluid.

Once collected the stationary is sorted, cleaned and melted into hard plastic which can be used to make new products.

Find your nearest collection point on the TerraCycle website.


There are lots of ways to find pre-loved textbooks or pass them on when you don’t need them anymore.

Books can’t usually be recycled along with other paper recycling because of the glue that’s used to bind them, so the best option is to reuse, donate or sell them.

  • Check with friends and family who might need similar books
  • Donate to your local charity shops
  • We Buy Books is a website where you can buy and sell old textbooks
  • Donate them to a school or library for other students to use

Packed lunches

Another daily school activity which has the potential to create waste is lunch! Packed lunches can be packed with single use plastic and often return at the end of the day with lots of uneaten food.

Back in 2020 we shared some tips on how to have a zero waste lunch box. There are some really easy quick wins which will help you in your mission to #WasteNothing.

If you enjoyed this blog, go ahead and share it!