Monday, July 28, 2008

Going Back to School in Green Style Part 1: Assessing What You Already Have

I'm so sorry to do this - talk about going back to school that is. While actually going back is still weeks away for most our kids, the time for gathering the items on your child's back to school list, stocking up on supplies for the year from the good sales, and purchasing items for your college student's dorm room is at hand. So this week, I'll be doing a series of posts on doing all of these things in as green a way as possible. If I were to wait until the end of August to do these posts, it would be too late. Today, we're going to talk about assessing what you already have.

Assessing what you already have will help to curtail your buying. It will also help you to reuse things that you already have. And, it will save you money.
  1. Make a list of all of the things your student(s) is going to need when school starts. If your school supplies a list, make sure you have that on hand. List everything from school supplies like paper and pens to backpacks to lunch bags to items for the dorm room.

  2. Gather all of the things you currently have that can be used. Then cross those items off your list. If your kids' backpacks are still in good working order, there is really no reason to get new ones. Your kids may stomp there feet and whine. Tough it out. This is a good opportunity to teach them about "making do."

    If their scissors and highlighters from last year still work, don't buy new ones. The same with lunch boxes and pencil cases and even sneakers. Yes, I know, new school shoes have somehow become a tradition, almost an obligation in this country. Buck tradition, be a rebel. Make them wear the sneakers they already have if they still fit.

  3. Put all of the items that you can aside so you know where they will be when the first day of school begins. Of course, you can't put their sneakers aside, but most of the rest of the supplies can be put in a closet out of reach of the kids so they don't disappear before they are needed.
A word about the supplies needed for a college dorm. My kids aren't close to the age where they will be going to college so I'm no expert on what it's like in a college dorm these days. But I do know what I see happening in stores like Target in mid-August. Frequently I see a mom and a college age kid, both with a shopping cart, loading up on bedding, bathroom supplies, lamps, cute rugs, matching desk top accessories, tv's, stereos, gaming systems ... all for the dorm room.

When I went to college, I would cart my pillow, my bedding, even my alarm clock back and forth from home to dorm. (Sorry to say the only time my bedding or towels really got washed was when I went home to visit!). There was never a big back to college shopping trip. Ever. It wasn't even about the money (although there wouldn't have been the money to do it). It was simply that it never occurred to me or my friends to expect all new things for our dorm.

I'd like any parent's of college age kids to please think about how necessary all that stuff is and what type of message you giving your children by buying it all. That's all I have to say about college stuff.

The rest of the week, I'll be focusing on more green back to school topics. If you've got any suggestions, please post them in the comment section.
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1 comment:

Allison said...

I love your posts. If you read my blog lately, you would know I missed the bus (pardon the pun) on buying eco school supplies. I am glad that you have the info here for others who haven't started school.
I remember taking ALL my stuff from home to my dorm in college. Late in life when I started to see stuff specific for college dorms at stores I was crushed. Why didn't they have these nifty things when I was in college? But now as a green mom I realize that is just more money and waste.
Great post.