As summer vacation winds down and the beginning of a new school year gets closer and closer, the annual back-to-school preparations begin. Even if the warm, August weather has made you forget about the back-to-school frenzy, endless TV commercials, flyers, radio advertisements and billboards are there to remind you that it’s time to spend your money on brand new supplies and clothing for your children.
While the back-to-school shopping trip may seem inevitable, it doesn’t have to be wasteful: There are many ways to make your routine eco-friendly (and less expensive).
Instead of buying new school supplies, jazz up old ones.
Often times, last year’s school supplies are in perfectly good condition, but kids just want something that looks new. Instead of buying new back packs, binders and pencil cases, help your children upcycle their old school supplies by decorating them.
Decorate binders and folders that are looking a little worn out with a collage of photos, magazine clippings and stickers. What about those leftover yellow pencils that are in perfectly good condition? Make them new again by wrapping tape around sections of the pencil and painting the sections in between the pieces of tape with nail polish. All it takes is some craft supplies and some creativity to make old supplies seem new again.
One person’s trash (or old clothes) is another person’s treasure.
Instead of going to the mall to replace perfectly good school clothes with more clothes turn back-to-school clothes shopping into a back-to-school celebration by hosting a clothing swap party. Organize a gathering with your children’s friends or classmates and have each child bring gently used clothing for a swap.
Also, check out thrift stores or consignment stores. Often times, you can find designer brands for cheap prices.
Make a "trashless lunch" a priority.
Prevent plastic waste and inspire the next generation of environmentalists by making sure when your child is finished with lunch, there is nothing to throw away. Brown paper bags, plastic bottles, plastic cutlery and plastic bags are common lunchtime staples that often end up in landfills. Invest in a reusable lunch box and water bottle, or two. Instead of packing disposable plastic cutlery, throw in a set of reusable, washable silverware, and include a cloth napkin. Pack snacks, produce and sandwiches in a reusable container as opposed to plastic bags. Along with the peace of mind of reducing waste in the cafeteria, you can also rest assured your child is eating healthier, with less pre-packaged processed foods.
By factoring in your environmental impact when making back-to-school plans, you can save money, reduce waste and teach your children eco-friendly habits. With a little bit of extra creativity, you can make “old” supplies “new” again, without even making a trip to the store.