It’s that special time of year when families crowd the stores looking for great deals. Not Christmas, but Back to School, one of the big shopping times of the year. So many supplies are needed to get kids and classrooms ready for months of learning. Now how do you keep it a little greener?
Reuse is my favorite way. That’s why I buy stainless steel water bottles for my kids – those things last forever. One thing I’ve learned over time is that the sooner you can switch to a cap that has to be unscrewed for your child to drink, rather than a sport cap or straw model, the better. Sport caps and straws are great, but my kids tend to break them, and not all brands make those easily replaceable. I hate having to buy a whole bottle because one part doesn’t work or is leaking a bit too much.
We also reuse backpacks and lunch bags when possible. Kids are hard on these things, but I can usually get at least two years out of them before they’re in just too poor of shape. Every year I hope to get more than that, but it doesn’t usually work out that way.
Where to Buy Green School Supplies?
The challenge in part is figuring out where to find eco friendly back to school supplies. They aren’t everywhere. If you have a store locally that has them, please, go for it. Support your local economy, it’s a good thing, especially if it’s a smaller store, not a chain. Otherwise, I love shopping online. That stuff that’s just impossible to get locally some places is easily available online much of the time.
The Ultimate Green Store is one possible place. They even have an eco back to school supplies section on their site. Makes it nice and easy to find appropriate supplies, whether you’re looking for backpacks, lunchboxes, drink bottles, crayons, pencils and so forth.
Of course, you do have to balance your back to school budget with the cost of eco friendly items, which can cost more. Still, it’s good to take a look and see which items you can do better on. Some items, such as drink bottles, can save you more in the long run over buying juice boxes throughout the years.
What Do You Need?
In our school district, parents get a list of supplies the teachers want the kids to have on the first day. I really wish it were sooner, as this limits our flexibility in buying school supplies. We can buy basics such as backpacks and lunchbags early, but some other products are more challenging. Everything is needed so quickly. Still, there are some basic considerations.
1. Only what you need
It’s all too easy to buy much more than you need, especially if you hit a really great school supply sale. Still, be careful about overbuying, and if you do buy more than you need, make sure you keep it on hand for next year. One great thing about school supplies – they don’t spoil. Keep good track of your extras.
2. Look for recycled products
There are a variety of products made from recycled materials these days, from the classic recycled paper products to backpacks made from recycled bottles to pencils made from recycled newspapers and more. And of course Terracycle makes a variety of interesting products.
3. Use refillable products
Lunch bags and backpacks aren’t the only things your child can use throughout the school year. Depending on what the teacher wants kids to have, take a good look at items such as binders and pencils. I’ve heard that some teachers won’t allow younger kids to have mechanical pencils, as younger kids break leads too fast and may play too much with the pencils, but these are good as the kids get older, as you only replace the leads, and you can buy mechanical pencils made from recycled materials.
4. Make packing healthy lunches easier
Plan out your needs for your child’s school lunches. What kinds of containers will you need to send a healthy lunch to school each day? Think about how any plastics used are made and if you’re comfortable with them. Consider stainless steel containers when appropriate. Glass can also work, but there is more risk of breakage.