Sustainable School Shopping
All the big box stores are already filling their seasonal areas with school supplies. At your local Targets, WalMarts, and K-Marts you can not only find aisles filled with pens, pencils, notebooks, and folders, but you can also find lunch boxes, backpacks, and countless choices of clothes to fit your childs always-changing style. While there is little debate that these places will offer you inexpensive options for school, you however, can NOT be sure that your school supplies are environmentally friendly. You may be surprised at how your little pumpkin's school supply list is helpful to the planet.
Therefore, here's a little guide to sustainable school supply shopping.
Oh, you wanted something with a little more detail? Ok.
Let's start with the basics.
Everyone should know about buying recylced material. Whether it's post-consumer recycled notebooks, pencils made with denim or newspaper (like Smencils!), or reusable cloth lunch bags, there are numerous options for reducing and reusing. But before we get into the details, here's a short video about what it takes to actually make a pencil.
When looking at this video you may see how much wood is used to make these little guys. Buying recycled pencils is just one way to make sure that fewer trees are cut down every year. Some recycled pencils use wood chips leftover from the pencil making factories, while others use old denim jeans or recycled newspaper. The important thing to remember when buying your school supplies is to BUY RECYCLED!
Ok, let's get into some alternative ideas for shopping sustainably.
1) Shop at thrift stores.
This option helps buyers "continue the loop." There are many reasons why shopping through thrift stores in sustainable. Here's a nice infographic on what it actually takes to make a simple cotton t-shirt. You will be able to spend less on clothing that's just as good as buying new. You'll find so many different styles and usuallycontent changes daily, so if you don't find something your child will wear, you just need to wait a day. Also, (and this is the best part) any clothing you buy at a thrift store will be saved from the landfill. You will not contribute to the enormous stress on our environment from textiles.
Here's a handy infographic that shows the large amount of resources required to make one simple t-shirt.
2) Buy durable, high-quality items.
This may seem counter-intuitive when thinking about "green" shopping, but it makes sense. You may have to spend a little more for the item at the beginning. However, if you buy quality, you will have that item longer and hopefully you'll be able to use it as a hand-me-down. You can "begin the loop", so to speak. Also, you can buy clothing made with alternative materials (like bamboo or hemp), which will help with sustainability.
3) Reuse supplies from last year.
Every parent has come across this at the end of the school year. They open their child's backpack and find an unopened package of glue sticks or tissue paper and half used packages of pencils and markers. This happens much too often. Remarkably, parents will line up at the big box stores in August (now!, in other words) and just buy what's on their child's school supply list. Yet, you can challenge your children to find items from the school supply list from around the house. Indeed, make it a game. Reward them with every check-off. They'll learn at an early age about sustainability. And they'll learn that it's more than just simple frugalness if you emphasize that not only are you saving money, but you're not cutting down another tree for their new pencils.
Happy Dancing Turtle