Monday, August 19, 2013

Greening Back-to-School

The Climate Crusader is back-to-school shopping, and trying to go green in the process.

I know that in some places kids are going back to school today, or have already been back at school a week or more. Where I live, however, school doesn't start up until the day after Labor Day. This year, my daughter will be heading to grade three and my son will be starting kindergarten. This means that I'm currently in the middle of going over supply lists and shopping for the things my kids will need to see them through the school year.

Four Easy Ways to Green Back-to-School

Here are a few ways that I'm greening back-to-school this year:
  1. Make a List ... and Stick to It - Whether you're shopping for back-to-school, the holidays, or just the week's groceries, if you don't know what you need you can wind up buying too much of one thing and not enough of something else. I have learned this lesson the hard way more than once. In fact, I currently have three bags of organic tortilla chips in my pantry, but I'm totally out of my favourite salad dressing. One of the environmental three R's is reduce. By making a list and sticking to it, you can reduce how much you're buying, and save money as well.
  2. Invest in Quality Items - This one is a little tricky, but sometimes it pays to spend more. Well-made items often last longer. For instance, the backpack that I invested in when my daughter started daycare at one year old is still going strong, seven and a half years later, when many cheaper backpacks she's received have long since died. By choosing your big-ticket items carefully, and buying something that will last, you can save money in the long run and live lighter on the earth.
  3. Think Reusable - Packing a litterless lunch makes a big difference, because you're reducing the amount of trash that your child produces every single day they go to school. With my son starting kindergarten, that means a new stainless steel water bottle, and new glass and stainless steel food containers. I also really love cloth snack bags, because they're much less bulky than other reusable options, and they can easily fit into a pocket if your child is eating on the playground. Don't forget about straws and cutlery, while you're at it!
  4. Label Everything - During the last week of school in June, a whole year's worth of lost-and-found items were laid out in the hallway outside of the gym at my daughter's school. There were more sweaters, coats, water bottles, food containers and socks than you could count. All of the items that weren't claimed were donated to charity, which is great, but if they had been labelled in the first place they never would have wound up in that hall. By making sure your child's lost items can be returned to them, you're cutting back on how much you have to buy, which is better for the planet and for you.
What about you - how are you greening back-to-school?


robbie @ going green mama said...

One thing that helped us? Seeing what we already had!!!

Green Bean said...

I have one son who loses everything he touches - which has made packing litter free lunches depressing. Labeling, like you mention, has really helped as has hitting our local thrift store for lunch boxes and water bottles. If they never come home, at least they were second hand to begin with.

I will also second the idea of buying quality. We bought some high quality back packs for both boys 3 years ago. Still going strong.


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