Back-to-school time is exciting for both kids and parents alike but for the family that is trying to be mindful of the footprint, it can feel like every element of back-to-school is focused on excessive consumption. The following are our five tips to have a greener back-to-school time:
- Pack your child a reusable water bottle and thermos and ditch the single use plastic water bottles. According to Plastic Oceans Foundation, over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes – utilized for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. There are a number of great brands to consider, from Cotopaxi which gives back with each purchase, to Hidrate Spark, which syncs with your phone to remind your teenage children to drink more.
- Buy used textbooks and reading books, rent them from a service, or utilize your local library. Many local libraries will work with other systems to track down and borrow a book you’re seeking through an interlibrary loan. There are several websites to facilitate buying or renting used textbooks including Campus Books, Alibris, and Chegg. Many libraries also feature a small store with their former books for purchase or you can find a larger selection of former library books online at Better World Books, Abe Books, and Thrift Books. If your school has a used book cart, make donations and support it with your own purchases.
- Consider hand-me-downs, clothing swaps, and shopping for preowned clothing to outfit your growing student. Many parent-focused Facebook groups have already initiated clothing swaps but consider hosting your own amongst your student’s upcoming classmates as a get-to-know-you event. For growing students who don’t have access to hand-me-downs, bring them to the local thrift or consignment store for a lesson in upcycling. We are particular fans of Goodwill retail stores, NCJW clothing stores, Buffalo Exchange, and Crossroads Trading.
- Inventory your current school supply stash before buying more, and when purchasing new supplies, consider investing in those made from post-consumer or recycled content. Take a look at Ecojot’s beautiful planners and notebooks, made from 100% recycled paper, printed with vegetable ink, and importantly, committed as a B corporation. Or, for something a bit more playful, take a look at PooPooPaper which makes upcycled stationary products made from animal byproducts through an ecofriendly and unique papermaking process.
- Buy in bulk but don’t buy more than you need. While bulk buying tends to save on packaging and transit costs that utilize greenhouse gasses, many back-to-school sales deals encourage us to purchase more than our student will ever really utilize. How many dried-up glue sticks have crossed your school supply drawer? Avoid the temptation of buying ‘more’ and work on cultivating a ‘less is more’ mentality with your student. And when you do find yourself with more than you’ll use, find a school supply drop off bin or consider donating the excess to your school or a nonprofit organization in need to avoid waste such as Schoolhouse Supplies, School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education, or Crazy Crayons.
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