Top photo credit: Blue Square Thing / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

It's that time of year again, when the halls of academia begin to bustle and burst with energetic, excited young students. For most, heading back to school means there's a lot of stuff to do and a lot of stuff to get — furniture, supplies, clothes, books, and more. To help you traverse this long and winding road in the most shareable way possible, we've compiled some points from Post-Landfill Action Network's "Waste-Free Back-to-School Tips" and Shareable's "Back-to-School Survival Guide" to come up with the five top tips for going back to school:

1. Ask

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The cheapest, most waste-free solution to acquiring things you only need for a short time is to borrow. Family members, friends, and neighbors might very well have a small fridge or some storage bins they aren't currently using, but you won't know unless you ask. A step up from borrowing, Freecycle is another wonderful resource that requires only that you ask for what you need.

2. Share

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Particularly for transportation, let sharing be your friend. Between Uber, Lyft, RelayRidesZimride, and ZipCar, you should be covered when it comes to your four-wheel needs. ZipCar even has a special college student program. If you only need two wheels, go for a bike-share option like Zagster, Spinlister, or your on-campus program.

3. Buy Used

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Thanks to work by the Post-Landfill Action Network and other programs, many schools now stage Back-to-School sales on campus where incoming students can purchase used furniture, books, dorm-size refrigerators, clothes, supplies, electronics, and whatever else the previous semester's class left behind. If no such sale is happening, hit the local thrift stores or Craigslist to get your goods.

4. Rent

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If you can't find a second-hand version of what you need, consider renting. A short-term lease might prove to be more economical than a purchase for things like furniture and books. Cort offers student rental packages with 48-hour set-up service. For textbooks, try Chegg, TextbookRentals, or CampusBookRentals.

5. Reduce, Reuse

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Between school, work, and socializing, the college years can be a harried and hurried time for many students. Don't let busy-ness be an excuse for wastefulness. Be sure to have reusable items at the ready — water bottle, silverware, dishes, and refillable pens and pencils. After all, waste not, want not.

Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

Things I share: I seek. I write. I think. I roam. I listen. I care. I wonder. I help. I flirt. I try. I dream. I grow.