Back To School Green Style

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I can already hear the bustle of back to school – buses, school shopping, the whining!  Backpacks, school supplies, clothes and more will be needed. I am constantly trying to reduce what we use, while still making sure we have what we need. I love that the more efficient I am with back to school shopping, the less clutter I have in my house and the more cash I have in my wallet!
Take Stock
The sales can be tempting. Before you stock up, inventory what you already have.
What Do They Really Need
Take a look at your child’s school supply list.  Depending on your child’s grade, teacher or classes, you may need (or not) specific items.
Donate or Repurpose Old Backpacks 
Do you have backpacks that are still in good condition but the kids won’t use them? Donate them.  Many charity are looking for backpacks.  You can also re-purpose them for sports or hobby equipment.  I use my son’s old backpack for his soccer gear.
Waste-free Lunches And Snacks
Think waste-free when packing your child’s lunch or snack. In the United States, the average school aged child produces 67 pounds of packaging waste per school year. Try these alternatives to one time use products.
  • Water bottle – There are many available online and at local stores.  Look for stainless steel or BPA-free.  Think about how it will fit in your child’s lunch box or backpack and how easy it is to clean. You might want to hang on to that baby bottle brush!
  • Reusable Sandwich Container – You can find these in stores as well as online. If you opt for plastic, make sure it is BPA-free.
  • Reusable Lunch bag – You can find these just about anywhere you find the sandwich containers and water bottles.
  • Reusable Baggies – Reusable fabric bags are popping up on the internet, small shops and craft fairs.
Eco-Friendly Classroom Supplies
When sending in donations for the classroom, try environmentally friendly cleaners or recycled content paper towels.
Think Outside the Envelop
Re-purpose unused return envelops. No matter how I try to reduce my junk mail, I still get mail with return envelops.   I keep these in my office and use them for permission slips, lunch ticket money, Box Tops, anything that needs to be sealed but doesn’t need a brand new envelop.

What are your tips and tricks?

This post is part of this months Green Moms Carnival Back-to-School edition hosted by Micaela of Mindful Momma.  Check out the whole post  for lots of great tips and  suggestions for sending your kids back-to-school the eco-friendly way. 

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12 Responses to Back To School Green Style

  1. Shai Smith August 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    I love these tips! I do most of them already, but will absolutely confess to buying school supplies like crayons when we already have 100 packs at home. >guilty!<

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) August 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

      Yeah, I’ve been there before too. One time we had enough glue sticks to last about 2 years! Granted they were like 10cents and we eventually used them, so stocking up isn’t always a bad idea.

  2. Small Footprints August 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    You know … as I was reading your post, I couldn’t help think that these were great tips for any kind of shopping. So many times we head to the store without taking stock or being prepared. That’s not good for the earth or our wallets. Thanks for a great post. I don’t know if you intended this to be a CTWW post but it sure works … and if you don’t mind, I’ll include it in Wednesday’s wrap-up. 🙂

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) August 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      You are right! I actually didn’t intend this to be part of CTWW since we already do this. I am having trouble with this week’s CTWW. Please feel free to include this in the wrap-up.

  3. Lisa Sharp August 21, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    My husband is a public school teacher, I wish more parents sent eco supplies. He buys recycled and non-toxic products for the room but still ends up with a lot of not so eco-friendly stuff. He carries a reusable bottle with him to work and each year throughout the year he says more kids start showing up with reusable bottles because they think his is cool. He also gives them as prizes sometimes and if he gives candy it’s Yum Earth organic suckers! 🙂

    BTW found you on Meet & Green. 🙂

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) August 22, 2012 at 12:04 am #

      Lisa, kudos to your husband! I wish more teachers did this. Our supply list specifically says “Clorox” wipes. Drives me nuts. I still buy Seventh Generation, but I’m sure lots of parents just go by the list.

      I can’t wait to meet my son’s teacher for this year! She deliberately edited the standard supply list to tell parents that a sock or cloth make a great white board eraser ( a white board eraser is on the list) and she took the extra time to print on both sides!

  4. Lori Popkewitz Alper August 28, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    Reusing all those extra envelopes is a brilliant idea! I’m going to save them rather than recycle. I also send in Seventh Generation wipes. I can’t send in Clorox.

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) August 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      Another light bulb moment on this one. I have so many now that they have completely filled the old envelop box! Can you imagine how many I’d have if I didn’t try to reduce my junk mail and do things online! I have started using them as normal envelops now too. I just tape a piece of scrap paper over the old address or window. I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy envelops again!

  5. CelloMom August 28, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    Great tips! On the clothes, I make sure to get my children’s go-ahead when buying – this way they actually wear what I buy. Just a few favourite things will go a long way: they spent a large part of the summer living out of one carry-on bag each, and it worked very well.

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) August 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      GREAT tip! I almost never buy anything for my girls anymore unless they are with me. I got tired of donating or giving away items with the tags still on!

  6. Kath August 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    I love these. I think the first one is the most important. It’s easy to get carried away with all that shiny new stuff you see everywhere…..

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) September 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      YES it is!!!! It amazes me how advertisers can convince you that you REALLY need this new thing. Imagine what would happen if they used those powers for good.

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