How to Have a Sustainable School Year

The new semester has just started, and I’ve always loved this time of year! After my first day of school in kindergarten, I cried on the way home because I had to leave. As the years have gone on, my enthusiasm at the beginning of the year has stayed strong, but tends to deplete as each month passes. My motto all of last year was “surviving and thriving”, but this put the idea of merely ‘surviving’ at the forefront.


Heading into this year, I am approaching it with a new focus: “sustaining and thriving”. Although it may not sound as catchy, I am placing all my efforts into not only being sustainable in my daily life (i.e. cutting out single-use plastics, actively monitoring my waste, etc.), but also into sustaining my enthusiasm throughout the school year. It is my hope that this positive mindset will not only improve my grades, but it will also improve my overall mental health and passion for the environment.

Here are my best tips and tricks on being eco-friendly AND thriving as a Ryerson student.


Sustainable School Supplies

Textbooks: Chances are this is the first time you’ll have to purchase textbooks, so buy your textbooks second hand! Not only will this save you tons of money, but it will also cut down the number of new prints in circulation. Ryerson’s book store sometimes has used books for sale, but they often get sold quite quickly. With this in mind, check out eBay and the Ryerson Facebook groups; student always post textbooks they’re trying to sell for a cheaper price. Just make sure the volume you’re buying second hand is the same one which is required for your course! If there are new publications, your professor will probably want you to buy the most recent edition.


Reusable water bottle: A reusable water bottle is much better for the environment and saves you money. Although the cost upfront may seem more expensive, considering the daily/weekly cost of water you will be spending on disposable bottles, it seems like a no-brainer!


Notebooks: I have many notebooks from previous years at home which I used for one class and then never touched again. If you handwrite notes like I do, go back through these notebooks and find some which you can reuse for a specific course. If reusing these notebooks isn’t doable, donate these notebooks to someone who you know can use them! By giving someone the opportunity to reuse a notebook, you are helping them have a more eco-conscious school year as well.


Backpacks: Getting a new backpack can be an exciting part of back-to-school shopping. Rather than doing this and discarding an old backpack which is still in good condition, reuse an older one or invest money into a bag which will last. Check to see if the bag you had from high school/last school year will still work for the upcoming year. Once your bag has outgrown your lifestyle, donate the bag to a local thrift store so that someone else in need of carrying school supplies can put your bag to use.


5 Tips for a Successful Semester

Go to All Classes: Although it can be tempting to skip class on cold winter days (trust me, I know), you will do far better in the course if you attend as many as possible. Professors give additional information and clarification surrounding topics, and verbal instruction is so much more effective than skimming slides.


Stay Caught Up on Readings: I haven’t always stayed caught up on readings in all my classes, but I can assure you that when I did, I would do much better in the course. A lot of professors recognize that textbooks are a large investment, so they often provide a list of resources and readings which are free to access through the Ryerson Library.


Make Time for Yourself: Although you are at Ryerson to learn, it is important to make time for yourself away from the classroom. Whether this “me time” is spent working out, watching Netflix, or simply taking a nap, your body will thank you and your grades will reflect this.


Finish Assignments as Soon As Possible: Many people say that they do their best work when they’re under pressure, but multiply the pressure of one course with all of your other courses, and that can be a lot! Everyone studies and completes tasks differently, but you will feel much more relaxed if you don’t feel rushed.


Schedule Your Life: As soon as you get your syllabus, enter the due dates into your calendar! An organized schedule leads to a productive semester.


Have a great first semester, HOEMies!

Jessica Wynne

Sustainability Awareness Advisor for HOEM on Jarvis

Instagram: @itsjessicawynne and @ecolojess