Back to school time is almost here and it can mean a lot of shopping and waste. Try these eco-friendly back to school shopping tips to help keep things green.
This is a guest post by Kimberly Button. Be sure to check out her blog Get Green Be Well for more great content.
Back to School time usually starts a frenzy of shopping. With a new school year comes new supplies that are needed for a new teacher. Children also want to reinvent themselves, too, with a new wardrobe, new gear, and pencils that haven’t even been sharpened yet.
There is nothing wrong with starting fresh for a new school year. You can do it with less environmental impact, though, if you follow these eco-friendly shopping tips.
Eco-Friendly Back to School Shopping Tips
Reuse What You Have
If your child still loves their backpack, lunchbox or other school gear, there is no compelling need to replace it.
Backpacks are sold all year long. Lunch containers are always available. Clothes and socks and shoes can be bought as children outgrow them, not just at the beginning of the school calendar.
Reusable Snack Bags and Lunch Containers
One of the biggest items of waste during the school year is disposable trash from snacks and lunches. It is always a great idea to pack a lunch. You will be able to cut costs and provide healthier foods for your kids. Using zero-waste food containers rather than disposable sandwich bags, though, can reduce your expenses and reduce landfill waste all year long.
A variety of reusable food containers can be found for every type of food or drink that you want to give your child to consume at school or after school.
Silicone reusable bags come in all sizes. They function as a zip-top bag, with an opening that is pinched shut or zipped shut to seal. These flexible bags can be frozen or heated and can be washed repeatedly.
Stainless steel containers, such as those from ECOlunchbox, can be reused infinite times. These reusable food containers come in tiny sizes ranging from tiny cups for dressings and condiments to stackable bento kit sets that stack with separated food compartments.
Insulated stainless steel containers and bottles are perfect not only for packing a drink but also for packing soups, stews or even ice cream. The insulating properties mean that food and drink can be added hot or cold and will remain at that temperature for hours.
Plus, there is no condensation on the outside of the container, which will keep napkins, fruit, and other lunch box items dry.
Disposable Food Containers
Sometimes a reusable food container just doesn’t make sense, whether it is young kids that end up throwing out the containers or packing for a sporting event where you cannot hold onto containers.
In those cases, choose an eco-friendly alternative instead. Paper sandwich and snack bags are great for many foods. Your kids can either bring back the paper to recycle at home, or put in a school’s recycling or composting containers.
If the products still end up in the trash, it is less of an environmental impact than disposable bags made from plastic.
Shopping consignment and thrift stores aren’t what it used to be even a decade ago. Today, a range of online consignment stores offer name brand clothing for discounted prices.
It’s possible to sit on your couch and score designer clothing with the tags still on for a fraction of the price of what you would pay in-store.
Schoola is an online consignment store that sells clothing for kids, juniors and women. Buying their items actually supports more than 32,000 schools that receive funds for initiatives such as drama education or art supplies.
Clothing is among the most disposed of items on the planet. Most clothing is discarded not because it is damaged, but because someone no longer wants the size or style. Consignment or thrift store shopping is a great way to enjoy sustainable fashion.
Try to buy a backpack made from cloth materials rather than plastic. Not only does plastic rip and tear more easily, but it can also be made with chemicals that could impact your child’s health.
PVC backpacks are common, but the plastic is often made with chemicals called phthalates, which can cause endocrine and hormone disruption. While phthalates have been banned from children’s toys since 2008, they are still found in school supplies, such as backpacks and lunch boxes.
Not sure how to determine if a backpack has PVC? Usually, the shiny, vinyl backpacks and clear see-through backpacks are made with PVC.