Monday, July 28, 2008

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable with Your Back to School Shopping (Going Back to School in Green Style: Part 2)

In yesterday's post about assessing what you already have before going out shopping for school supplies, I encouraged you all to buy only what you really need. Here are tips for doing that in an eco-friendly way.
  1. Buy recycled paper products whenever possible. Kids are going to need things like notebooks, composition books, printer paper, and homework organizers. Save a few trees and buy recycled. It may cost you a little bit more, but if you watch the sales, you may get some bargains.
  2. Earth friendly pens and pencils are getting easier to find. Paper Mate makes a good #2 pencil called Earthwrite that can be bought at most office supply stores or online. Pilot makes a line of pens called BeGreen that are made from 86% recycled content.
  3. Shop at second hand stores and consignment shops for clothes, backpacks and other items. You can find a lot of great stuff for your kids and you'll save a lot of money.
  4. If you are going to buy new clothes for the kids, buy them made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, bamboo, or hemp.
  5. Schools often ask for donations of boxes of tissues or antibacterial wipes. Buy tissues from recycled paper or wipes from Method.
  6. Purchase durable, reusable lunch boxes, food and beverage containers to send to school.
  7. If you need to buy textbooks for a college student (or any other student), buy used. Way back when, used textbooks were only available in the campus bookstore. But now, they are available all over the Internet and you can shop around for the best price while saving a few trees.
  8. If you're going to buy the kids new back to school shoes (and I suggest that you don't unless their old shoes don't fit or are in deplorable shape), check out Simple Shoes. They are made from things like organic cotton, hemp and recycled tire inner tubes.
  9. Don't take the kids with you when you go shopping if it's possible. Take your lists and nothing else. Stick to your lists. If you take the kids, they might talk you into buying more than you need or a Hannah Montanna notebook instead of one made of recycled paper.
  10. Plan your shopping to do it all at once and at stores that are within close proximity to one another. Driving all over your region to purchase green back to school items kind of negates buying them, doesn't it?
Some of the green back to school products may cost a little more than their conventional counterparts. Before you go out shopping, reconcile with the fact that you might have to spend a little bit more. If you're shopping for clothes at thrift and consignment stores, however, you just might end up spending less overall. Stumble Upon Toolbar


Robert said...
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Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding facetious, my initial reaction was "hmm, home schooling would be the most sustainable way of handling back to school shopping".

More seriously, one of the big issues here in the UK is with school uniforms. They're required in most schools, supply is outsourced to the cheapest provider, and almost all are produced in China, Indonesia or the Philippines at very, very low cost. They're made from either cheap cotton or synthetics, with all the attendant environmental impacts.

"Correct" alternatives that will be accepted by schools are very difficult to find. It's ironic that school uniforms are ignored given the increasing emphasis on healthy food, recycled paper, decreasing energy use, encouraging walking/cycling to school, and so on.

Robin Shreeves said...

Robert - glad you like eco-friendly school supplies, but it would be nice if your link took us to some. I don't mind links that are useful to our readers, but please no self-promotion or spam.

Stonehead - There are probably a lot of things about home schooling that are sustainable. I've thought about doing it, not because it's sustainable, but when it comes down to it, it's not the right thing for my family.

As for the uniforms - you've got a good point. They aren't required in my kids' public school but my friends who have kids in private school are limited on their options.

Perhaps you've got a cause on your hands!