Green your back to school routine
How can we separate back-to-school shopping from consumerism? Here are some of my tips.
Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 20:27
BACK TO SCHOOL: Get ready for the big event while keeping the environment in mind. (Photo: lel4nd/Flickr)
Starting school creates a lot of mixed emotions for families. Parents are probably humming "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," but kids are already protesting the homework and early mornings. (Though I was one of the kids who was actually excited for classes. The smell of Staples still makes me smile.)
Now that my last first day of school is next week, I wanted to share some ideas on greening your back to school shopping. I'll start in the middle of the day — lunchtime.
Find an insulated lunchbag to keep food cool this year. Buying a reusable bag prevents the need to buy brown paper bags, or even to use plastic shopping bags.
While you're at it, stock up on reusable snack bags, too. I use these handmade bags, found on Etsy. Now you can rinse out these lined bags, or just toss them in the washing machine, instead of going through boxes of one-use Ziplocs.
Juice boxes may seem like the easiest way to pack lunch drinks, but in addition to being loaded with sugar, drink pouches end up in the trash after one use as well. BPA-free water bottles are all over the market now. Camelbaks are my go-to bottle, especially because they're practically spill-proof.
I've already confessed my love for new office supplies — but how can we reduce impact here?
If students can choose between binders and notebooks, go for the binder and choose 100 percent recycled filler paper. When there's unused paper at the end of the year, you don't waste leftovers, and you can easily add more if necessary.
Many students spend a considerable amount of time on their computers for homework today. Make sure computers are shut down and unplugged every night (same goes for printers). The easiest way to remember this is to plug them into a surge protector for a one-click solution.
Before you go shopping, wait for a supply list from teachers, and talk to parents of older students. There might be a lot of "might need it" items on the list where you can reduce consumption.
If you're a college student, one of the woes of back-to-school is purchasing textbooks — especially books you can't imagine needing in the future. For my summer courses last year, I rented my textbooks on Chegg and Book Renter — it was a great decision! I saved lots of money, and didn't have to worry about selling back my book at the the end of the year.
Do you have any tips to share? What do you do about back to school clothes shopping? Good luck to all the parents and students next week!
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