Can you believe that it is already Back to School time? Between clothing, school supplies and other school related gear, there are a lot of items that your child will need to get ready for another school year. Getting your children ready for back to school doesn't have to hurt the environment or break the bank. Here are my top 10 tips to making your back to school shopping Eco friendly and fun.
School Supplies 101: School supplies can be a huge part of your back to school budget and choosing Eco friendly supplies can be tricky. First, I suggest going through your child's supplies from last year and reusing as many of those supplies as possible. If your child's school wants the supplies kept in a plastic container, consider using last years container - after a good scrubbing, it should be as good as new. If you need to purchase new supplies, consider supplies that are sustainable made and/or recycled. My favorite Eco friendly place to purchase green school supplies that are fun is Stubby Pencil Studio.
Let's Get Trendy: Back to school clothing and shoes most likely uses the largest part of your budget. With that said, you want to get the most bang for your buck. A great way to get your school clothing shopping done without breaking the bank or harming the environment is to get creative. Your local thrift and consignment stores will have a large selection of clothing that are in great condition. If you are crafty, you can find something used and with a few snips and stitches, you can have a new designer piece of your own - think Project Runway. If your neighbors, friends or extended family has children around the same ages as your own, you can arrange a clothing swap party. Or, you can check out an online clothing swap site. If 2nd hand isn't your thing, consider purchasing clothing from sustainably minded companies that use organic and all natural fibers.
Choose Quality over Quantity: When doing any of your child's back to school shopping, consider quality over quantity. Choosing items that are high quality and will last longer is a much better option than purchasing a use once and it breaks item. Choose quality items that your child can use over and over again each school year, items such as; backpacks, supply boxes, refillable pens and pencils and hardcover refillable notebooks. Also, purchasing high quality clothing and shoes that will last the entire school year and could even be passed onto younger siblings is a huge plus.
Lunch Break: Does your child's school doesn't have a healthy, well balanced lunch program with an actual kitchen that prepares and cooks their own meals? How about a kitchen that washes and reuses trays and silverware? If not, consider sending a homemade lunch for your children everyday. A nutritious and delicious homemade meal sent to school in a reusable BPA free lunchbox is the perfect way to reduce lunchtime waste. Plus, packing your own child's lunch gives them the ability to provide feedback as to which energy fueling foods they will enjoy.
You Have to Get There: How your child gets to school can have a huge impact on the environment. Whether that impact is positive or negative is up to you? If you live close to the school, consider having your child walk or bike each day. If walking or biking isn't an option, consider carpooling with other children that live in your neighborhood or have your children ride the local school bus. If you absolutely must drive your child to school, remember not to idle in the pick up/drop off line - turn your car off while you wait.
Books, Books, Books: If your child goes to a school where you need to purchase their textbooks or if your child is starting college, consider purchasing your books through a used textbook reseller. Many online resellers and campus bookstores sell used books and you can also find them online at eBay, Craig's List or my favorite BigWords. Once your child is finished using a textbook, you can usually sell them back to these vendors as well.
Get the Gear: If your child is signing up for extra-curricular activities or sports and will need the gear to go with it, consider purchasing used gear. You can purchase used sports gear at stores such as Play It Again Sports or through online classified sites such as Used Sports. Most of the gear that you will find at these establishments are in like new condition and still have plenty of playtime left in them.
Go Digital: If your child's school will allow it, consider going digital. It can be much more Eco friendly to store your child's agenda, homework and other important documents on a PDA or Netbook. Also, taking notes on a laptop is much easier than filling up notebooks and using ink pens - which are hard to recycle.
Encourage Change: Get involved with your child's school, help them to become more Earth friendly. Suggest that each classroom have it's own recycling and composting area. Encourage your child's school to plant and harvest an on campus garden that the children can help maintain and enjoy. Suggest that the school schedule Eco field trips that immerse children in the environment. Also, meeting with your child's principal to discuss the importance of making the school as sustainable as possible is very important, if changes are going to be made.
Live Green at Home: As with most things in life, children will learn by how you as a parent live. Lead by and be an excellent example for your child to follow. If you pick up litter, speak out about sustainability, eat organics and love the environment - changes are, so will your child. If we all make small green choices everyday, that our children grow up modeling, we all benefit in the long run.
What ways will you green your children's back to school?
Leave your comments below!
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