By Meredith Berman
With us now well into September, school is officially back in session and students are settling back into it. As the new school year commences, why not take this as an opportunity to reassess our habits, realign with our goals, and introduce better, more sustainable practices into our daily lives? We can use the fresh start of the school year as a reset for ourselves and our routine, and we can remove the aspects of our life that no longer serve us or fit the life we want.
As a current junior in college, this year marked my move from on-campus to a house off campus. The transition caused my own practices to undergo some restructuring as I navigate this next chapter of college and try to implement more sustainable choices.
As I’m suggesting to you, I took reaching this milestone and the start of a new school year as a moment to form new habits and reevaluate the impact of my actions. In an effort to cut my plastic use and surround myself with brands whose values mirror mine, I found some great products and companies that have earned a spot in my redesigned life.
Below you will find a list of college-approved products across the lifestyle category: some home items, some clothing, and some beauty.
Eco-Friendly Back To School Supplies
Public Goods glass food storage
Glass food containers will always be superior to me. Saran wrap literally makes my skin crawl, and plastic tupperware doesn’t hold a candle to the practical functionality of glass. I have been a fan of glass food containers since I lived in a dorm and needed storage that was also microwave safe. Glass excels in that department, and when bought as a food container with a lid, it eliminates the need for single-use coverings like saran wrap.
And not to mention, dark-colored foods and sauces won’t stain glass the same way they do plastic. Since becoming a glass container enthusiast, I have slowly switched my parents’ tupperware collection over to glass storage and of course brought some with me to my new house at school.
Our favorites are the “Square Glass Food Storage” containers by Public Goods. Public Goods is a sick brand that provides affordable and sustainable groceries, personal care, home, and pet products. By using a membership model, Public Goods can sell their products at wholesale price, and for every new member, they plant a tree.
They have a line of tree-free products that use tree alternatives like bamboo and sugarcane to protect against deforestation. All of their manufacturing is cruelty-free, and they abide by Europe’s list of banned chemicals. Also, they have biodegradable and compostable products with a goal to make all of their products zero waste, and they divert waste from landfills by donating to charity.
These containers come in a pack of four, are made of borosilicate glass, tempered soda lime glass, and silicone, and are the perfect size to hold leftovers. At school, I even use the container as I would a bowl, eat what I want, and then store the rest. I highly, highly suggest switching to glass storage for your kitchen and checking out Public Goods.
Public Goods produce bags
On that note about Public Goods, I also love their reusable produce bags. The bags are 100% recycled organic cotton, machine washable, and have a convenient drawstring. Both switching to reusable bags and supporting companies like Public Goods are simple habits we can adopt to influence systemic change. The current climate disaster might seem like a daunting task to take on, but as individuals, it really is about implementing these effortless changes.
These bags come in a two-pack and are 11 x 13.8 inches, making them great for holding a variety of produce. I finally got my mom to switch to these bags (she liked how plastic controlled the mess of red onions), and now she’s the one who checks that we have our reusable produce bags when we go grocery shopping!
I have always valued soft, comfortable clothing, but since I started going to school in the south, material breathability has become an important quality, and Boody does it best. Boody’s clothing and underwear deliver on all fronts: the products are comfortable, stylish, and sustainable.
Originally from Australia, Boody was created in response to the pollution and waste produced by the fashion industry. Since its creation, it has grown to be sold in 15 countries and has become the first underwear brand in the USA to be B Corp Certified. B Corp Certified means that the brand operates at the highest social and environmental level, taking more than just the financial bottom line into consideration. Instead, B Corp Certified brands look at the triple bottom line: profit, people, and planet. Their signature bamboo fabric is revolutionary and is leading the way toward more ethical and sustainable fashion.
My holy grail Boody products are the shaper bra, ribbed seamless bra, downtime lounge pant, and weekend jogger.
Beyond Yoga- spacedye line
I already mentioned that I go to school in the south and have a particularly warm and humid back-to-school season. Beyond Yoga is making the heat bearable by keeping me comfortable and cute in their workout sets. Their Spacedye collection is Bluesign certified which means the manufacturing is done without harmful chemicals, water and energy use is conservatively controlled, pollution is minimized, and workers are protected from chemical exposure.
Their clothing ranges from great basic colors to special seasonal hues, but all are made from the same buttery soft fabric. I have the “Spacedye Slim Racerback Cropped Tank” and “Spacedye Keep Pace Biker Short” in their purple dahlia heather. This shade of purple is a seasonal color, and I can’t wait to buy more!
Cocokind is my favorite beauty brand of all time, partially because it’s bigger than beauty. It is a clean and sustainable beauty brand with recyclable packaging, organic ingredients, and a breakdown of the product’s formulation and sustainability on either side of the box. Cocokind proves that skincare and makeup can be effective and also sustainable. Whole Foods is also a Cocokind retailer which is just an added bonus!
I swear by their texture smoothing cream and probiotic acne serum, and I recently fell in love with their mai-light highlighter. They just launched a tinted lip moisturizer with SPF that I’m dying to try and will provide feedback once I do.
Kopari is another amazing beauty brand committed to clean and sustainable skincare. Coconut is the base of all their products, and Kopari exclusively uses organic, sustainably sourced, family-farmed coconuts from the Philippines. Their manufacturing is based out of San Diego with solar panels supplying 80-100% of their energy.
And while many of their products are blue bin recyclable, for the products that aren’t, Kopari has a partnership with TerraCycle which allows individuals to mail their plastic containers to TerraCycle to recycle them properly. In pursuit of being as sustainable as possible, Kopari has plans for the future including refillable containers (which they already offer for select products), and they pledge to remain transparent while constantly bettering themselves.
In my backpack, I always keep one of their “Lip Glossy” lip gloss-chapstick hybrids. It is really moisturizing and has a beautiful shine that withstands heat and sweat. “Gym lips” have been trending on tik tok which aptly describes lip makeup for the gym that is both casual and cute, and Kopari’s lip glossy definitely meets the criteria with its functionality and high gloss. One of my friends just started Accutane, which has the unfortunate side effect of causing extreme dryness, and she said this has been her go-to for keeping the dryness at bay.
About the author
Meredith Berman is a current junior at Tulane University pursuing a double major in public health and environmental studies. She hopes her articles can be a resource for people who want to live a more conscious, sustainable life.