Connect with Metro
503-797-1804 TDD
503-797-1797 fax
Billboard artwork by third-grader

Back-to-school green tips

Tools for living    Stop waste before it starts    Back-to-school tips

Getting ready for school? Go green with tips to save money, conserve natural resources and reduce your carbon footprint.

At home

  • Pack waste-free lunches by using permanent containers, reusable utensils and cloth napkins.
  • Host a fun clothing-swap party for friends and neighbors.
  • Avoid buying too many supplies by inventorying what’s already at home.
  • Rather than throw away unwanted items, gather up extra pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips and the like for donation to a local elementary school or to nonprofit organizations that accept school supplies.
  • Keep a running list of needed items on the fridge, helping you stay organized to avoid multiple, last-minute car trips.
  • Create weekly meal plans in advance to stock the fridge in one trip, saving time and gas money and reducing congestion and pollution.
  • Choose tap water over bottled products. It’s just as good and – at less than a penny per gallon – it’s a great bargain.

At school

  • Take good care of your pack, folders, cell phone and other items. They’ll last longer, saving you money in the long run.
  • Prevent waste and unnecessary purchases by using pens until the ink runs out, holding on to pencils until they’re too short for writing and making use of each blank page in your notebook.
  • Connect with dorm mates ahead of time to determine which housewares – from dishes and hair dryers to furniture and electronics – you can share, cutting down on unnecessary purchases.
  • Reuse items from home when furnishing the dorm room. For remaining items still needed, check local thrift stores near the school.

On the go

  • Shop for back-to-school apparel at thrift and vintage-clothing stores, giving good-quality, one-of-a-kind fashions a second life.
  • Consider refurbished computers over new ones. They often cost less, and some come with a warranty when purchased from the manufacturer.
  • Choose products with more recycled content – paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer materials, for example – and less or no packaging. If the product comes with packaging, first ensure the wrapping or container includes recycled content and can be recycled.
  • Look for pens and pencils made with sustainably harvested wood or recycled content.
  • Check thrift stores for reusable school supplies such as binders and backpacks.
  • Collaborate with other parents on a carpool for the kids to reduce pollution and traffic congestion while saving time and money.
  • Learn how high schoolers in the Portland Public School District can ride TriMet for free at
  • Explore options to safely bike and walk to school.

Need assistance?

Metro Recycling Information
Send a message

Related Links

Bike there!

Find bike safety information, videos and resources in English and en español. Learn where to purchase the Bike There! map, and view the interactive version of the map.

Walk There!

Find walking resources, maps and safety information in English and en español.

Share a ride

Discover information and links to easy ways to save money and reduce carbon emissions by carpooling, vanpooling or carsharing.

Ride public transit

Catch a bus or take the MAX for work or errands. Check schedules and use trip planners for the Portland-Vancouver area's public transit services.

Related Internet links

Did you know?

Salmon need cold, clean and clear water to thrive -- and so do humans. Find out what you can do at home, at work, at school and in your community to protect wild salmon habitat.
Impassioned civil discourse in your pajamas - Opt In

Featured item

Use the directories or the recycler locator tool to find organizations that accept metals, plastic, paper and many other materials and products that typically end up in our landfills.

© 2014 Metro. All rights reserved.

Send questions, comments and suggestions about the website to

600 NE Grand Ave.
Portland, OR 97232-2736
503-797-1804 TDD
503-797-1797 fax