Go Green Back to School

Buying a skimpy “green” kit of school supplies for forty dollars isn’t the best or the most economical way to go green when you or your children start classes. Although they are becoming available in more stores, they are expensive and don’t come close to fullfilling the ever longer classroom supply requirement lists.

Supplies and clothes take up the vast majority of back to school budgets. First, look through last year’s supplies and clothing, and check what’s available throughout your home. Take out anything that can be used and mark it off the list. Trade items with your friends or other parents. Basics such as pens, pencils, rulers, folders and notebooks can be reused. Donate whatever can’t be used to a local thrift shop or school to help someone else. Many schools now have recycling programs to help children in need.

Don’t overbuy. A buy three get one free offer may seem too good to pass up, but if you only need one between now and next year, you’re over-consuming and wasting money and resources. Many times these offers are on items that you don’t need to purchase in quantity. If you do choose to buy in quantity, get together with other parents and make a composite list. You can save money and not waste products.

Rummage sales and thrift or consignment shops are a good value. Using this method also helps because it cuts down on the demand for newly manufactured products and saves on resources. Nearly anything can be found at these shops including backpacks and clothing. There are also specialty consignment shops springing up everywhere just for children and teenagers that offer fasionable, good quality products at reduced prices.

Only purchase reusable lunch and liquid containers. They save money in the long run, and are much better that using a new lunch sack and baggies every single day. Single-sized bags of chips are a waste of plastic. Place chips in a reusable container, or better yet, choose healthier snacks such as fruit that don’t need individual plastic wrappers. Let kids in on the decision-making on lunch foods; they’ll be less likely to throw food away if they’re involved.

If your kids can take the bus, let them, or if they’re close enough and old enough, let them take their bikes or walk. Form a carpool with other people in the neighborhood.

Always involve kids in the process of going green. They’re more likely to cooperate and recycle if they understand the reasons for doing so. They often come up with their own ideas. You can work with them to craft things for the beginning of school such as making bookmarks, or decorating last year’s notebooks.

Going green these days means much more than purchasing expensive products from recycled material. It’s about saving money, and avoiding the waste of the Earth’s natural resources.