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The back to school time of year can be exciting for the whole family - younger children look forward to going to school for the first time, older children look forward to reconnecting with friends, and parents look forward to making the transition as positive as possible for their children - and to the quiet!
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with back to school shopping. On one hand, it’s a great opportunity to get kids organized and excited about school. On the other, it can be crowded, overwhelming, and difficult to find what you need. Save money, energy and the environment this year with these ecofriendly back to school shopping tips.
Reuse. When possible, reuse anything you can! Do an inventory of what you already have before you create your shopping list. The notebook that’s only half filled still has plenty of good pages to be used up. Items like binders, scissors, and backpacks can often be reused year to year. Swap clothing between siblings or friends so children are still able to enjoy new clothes, but you don’t necessarily have to buy all of them brand new. At Seventh Generation, employees bring in clothes, sports equipment, and books to trade or pass on to those with younger kids!
Lunch. The way you pack a lunch is one of the easiest ways to reduce your impact on the environment. Instead of paper bags and plastic baggies, invest in an eco-friendly reusable lunch container (canvas or stainless steel are usually best). Reusable containers and a reusable water bottle are also good additions.
Supplies. Look for supplies that utilize recycled material and have as little packaging as possible. Generally try to steer away from plastic, and look for materials like natural fabrics (try cotton instead of nylon for a backpack), cardboard or paper instead. Research brands that make green school products ahead of time to make this a little easier.
Shop local. Help out your community and save on gas by supporting local retailers rather than the go-to chain stores. Local co-ops may surprise you with their selection!
Don’t overload. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of shopping and advertised deals. While buying a pack of ten glue sticks may be a great bargain, are you really going to use all of them? If it doesn’t come out of the backpack every single day, think twice before buying in bulk.
Need vs. want. Don’t take the whole “back to school” mentality too far. Especially so if you take your children shopping with you, it’s important to differentiate between a need and a want. Check off all the items on the school’s suggested list, but be wary of extra electronics or art supplies that may catch a child’s eye.
What are your tips to keep back to school shopping sane and sustainable?