Tag Archives: back to school

Trying to Figure Out the Green in My Daughter’s School Fundraiser

You know it’s really back to school when the kids start bringing home the fundraiser packets. Time to try to get relatives to buy overpriced stuff in the name of helping our schools.

This school is selling Sally Foster stuff. Wrapping paper, all the usual stuff. And cookie dough, which I will admit to a weakness for. The banner and book talk about offering green items, so I decided to take a look.

It’s hard to tell just exactly how green some offerings are. There’s gift wrap printed on recycled, recyclable and biodegradable paper. Not bad, but kind of meh.

The reusable shopping bags are much better. I can’t tell what they’re made of, but still it’s a good, green idea.

Of course, the prizes the kids get for selling are still pretty horrible, but it’s hard to keep them from getting excited about prizes.

The problem with school fundraisers isn’t just whether or not they offer recycled paper or anything environmentally friendly at all. The big problem is that we deal with them every year, sometimes more than once. That part’s a bit of a pain. It’s really hard to ignore the pressure to sell, as the kids are so excited about it all.

I don’t know that there are any easy green solutions for the problem either. There are affordable, environmentally friendly things you can buy, but soon enough you don’t need more of them, at least not unless they’re really practical things like cleansers.

I’m glad even so to see that even a semblance of environmental awareness is creeping into school fundraising. It’s not much, but it is something.

Off to a Cheap Start on Back to School Shopping!

Back to school is off to a cheap start for us this year. I didn’t buy anything for my daughter before school started because her backpack and lunch bag are still in good condition, and I didn’t know what else she would need, as the school hadn’t sent a list.

Turns out that was the exact right move.

Her teacher provided all the supplies she has to have. I really hope it all came from a school budget. The teacher does have a small wish list, and apparently this is the first year the school is allowing teachers to ask parents to help with supplies.

Compared with the lists from last year, that came as a surprise.

Of course, this means I have no say in how environmentally friendly any of my daughter’s school supplies are… aside from going ahead and getting some pencils for the class or something, that being the level of things on her 4 item wish list.

We still have plenty of supplies for at home from last year, so I’m thinking I won’t need to buy anything, at least not until later in the year.

Are You Ready to Send Your Kids Back to School?

I can hardly believe it’s almost time for my kids to go back to school. This summer has been incredibly hectic with the move and all, and has flown by worse than usual.

And the school office should be open tomorrow so that I can finally register my daughter in our new school district. They wouldn’t let me do that at the office.

With a new school year often comes new school supplies. Backpacks, lunch boxes, binders and so forth go flying off stores shelves so that kids will be ready for school.

It’s nice when you can keep them green.

I got things started around here last year by buying my daughter a Klean Kanteen. She loves it and will continue to use it this year. I’m hoping for cooperation in reusing her lunch bag and backpack this year because really, they aren’t in that bad of shape.

Fortunately, younger kids aren’t always going to think of back to school as a time to go shopping for new supplies, so I think I can get away with it. I’m most tempted by a new reusable lunch bag, as there are some really nice ones out there but really her bag looks to be up for at least another year’s use, so why replace it?

If you have to buy school supplies for your kids, there’s a good article over on the Healthy Child, Healthy World site on avoiding PVC and such in school supplies. You may not always have a choice in all the materials your child uses, as sometimes teachers will provide folders, but when you have a choice, do try to keep it friendly not only to the environment but to your children.

What are your favorite green back to school tips?

Are Your Kids Walking to School?

Now that school is starting through pretty much the entire United States, I just have to ask – are your kids walking to school? Riding a bike? Why or why not?

walking back to school

For my family, walking is an easy option. School is just a few blocks away. I’ve walked there in about a minute less than it takes my next door neighbor to drive there. That’s car loading and unloading time!

But there’s a huge backup of people driving their kids to school in my area, and around most schools I’ve ever been by at times when parents are dropping kids off or picking them up.

I know it can be hard to fit walking time into a busy schedule, especially if both parents work or there are younger siblings. Believe me, I’ll be feeling more of that pinch when this baby comes. Two younger siblings to bring along just to get my daughter!

Things do get easier, of course, as kids get old enough to walk or ride bikes on their own to school. Many parents these days are overprotective because we hear so much about what can go wrong. The thing about it is that the worst happenings are rare. Only the fact that we get pretty nearly instant national news makes some things seem like a major problem. Hearing about crime on the news has been proven to make people worry more about it, even when the crime rate goes down.

That doesn’t mean you ignore the risks. It means you teach your kids how to minimize them. All the usual things about how to cross streets safely, avoid strangers and so forth that we teach our kids are skills they should be putting into practice once they’re old enough.

I don’t suggest having kindergarten age kids walking home alone. I do recall my sister and I doing that when she was in kindergarten and I was in preschool, but that was because the older kids who were supposed to walk with us ran off ahead.

I think it’s important to remember that the more responsibilities you give children, the more chances they have to learn to be responsible.

And of course, walking and biking are far better for your health and the health of your children than going in the car. With all the crowds of people driving to school, it can be less frustrating as well.

Keeping Back to School Sane

It’s coming up on time to send the kids back to school, and you know what that means.

Time to shop for all the supplies your child will need for school. Backpacks, pens, pencils, folder, binders, maybe some new clothes. All of this can really add up.

And it’s a hard time to keep a lot of it green even if some of your purchases are intended to help keep your school year overall greener, such as planning waste-free lunches.

At my daughter’s school, we are just asked to provide some basic supplies for the classroom, which will be shared. First graders aren’t expected to handle bringing all their own supplies, which makes sense to me considering how much of their work is done on teacher-provided worksheets.

For that I did go by the list the school provided and picked out an assortment of items from that list. The list had a big emphasis on the name Crayola for the crayons, for example, and as they’re a shared resource I suspect that’s to be sure of the kids all getting equal quality when they use the crayons

For my daughter’s backpack, I had a goal of buying one that would last her at least two years. Being a thoroughly commercialized kid despite my efforts, she first wanted a Dora one. But since I knew that would be a poor choice for first grade and worse for second, she didn’t get it.

Can I say how grateful I am that she doesn’t like Hannah Montana? That’s despite one of her friends telling her last year that “everyone” likes Hannah Montana. So proud that she still didn’t care.

The next pick was a lunch bag. Last year’s bag was thrashed to say the least, with a stench that would not come out, due to her habit of not quite closing her drink containers and leaving food lose in it, instead of back in the containers.

Fortunately, the containers themselves are still in good condition, so all we needed was a new bag. Our budget is exceptionally tight this year, with my husband only freshly back at work, so we just stuck with what we could find at Target. I’d like to ensure that we go PVC free in the future, but this year my one concern was lead free.

Why does that have to be a concern anyhow? You’d think companies would know better by now.

The key to keeping all of this sane is thinking carefully about what it is your child really needs for school. Don’t overdo it on the supplies. Make sure that backpacks and lunch bags will be suitable for more than just the current school year.

And really don’t overdo it on the back to school clothes. I suspect that’s where some of the worst overspending can occur. It’s fun for kids to look a little extra nice the first day, and that often extends to much of a new wardrobe.

Some of that can be necessary. Long pants, often mostly unworn during the summer, may suddenly be too short. Other clothes just don’t fit right anymore. Some clothes shopping probably has to be done.

Remember that there will be other occasions where buying clothes will also make sense. Look at your child’s wardrobe and see how many outfits were hardly worn at all, despite not being outgrown. That can give you an idea as to how much you should be cutting back. You may also find clothes that still fit nicely and look just fine.

I always set aside some of the “still fits but thrashed” clothes for play clothes. My kids love having clothes that they can get as dirty as they want. Believe me, that’s pretty amazingly dirty. I figure that if they’re ruining only a certain number of clothes, that’s more that will survive to go to the thrift store, where some other child will benefit.

Remember that back to school is a great time to teach your child that you don’t have to keep up with what everyone else has. There’s no need to have the latest of everything, or the trendiest clothes. It can be a hard lesson, but if your kids learn it well you can really save your sanity, your money and shop green.