It is less than 2 weeks until the kids are back at school and as all the department stores and supermarkets keep telling us, there is a lot to buy and it can be expensive. Australian families spend as much as $1000 per child at the start of each new school year on school supplies, new clothes etc. Although we might be tempted to buy every item on the ‘back to school list’, it is worthwhile double checking so you not only don’t spend more than you need but you can also be more sustainable in how you go about that purchasing.
- Don’t create more waste – Before you head out to the local retailer, see what you already have in your house. Make sure to reuse supplies that you already own. Every year, six billion pens are thrown away around the world that still work — so make sure you don’t have any functioning supplies lying around before you buy new ones.
- Ask the question – am I really going to use it? – Before you buy a new lunchbox or that 12-pack of glue sticks on sale, ask yourself if you are going to be committed to bringing a lunch to school this year, or if your child is really going to make 12 glue sticks-worth of art projects. Being realistic about back to school needs will help reduce waste and unnecessary spending.
- When you do buy items – buy reused or recycled – Save trees and reduce pollution. There are tons of products easily available that are made from recycled materials, like recycled paper, notebooks and folders. Also, think about products that you can reuse and recycle, such as refillable pens and biodegradable pencils.
- Clothes shopping can also be green – Clothes shopping is a major part of our back to school consumption. A lot of schools have a second-hand uniform shop to pick up a few cheaper items. If you purchase good quality school uniforms- your child will grow out of them before they become unwearable.
- Reduce the packaging with school lunches – investment in a good quality lunch box will pay off if you use it properly. Choose options with compartments for different food so that you don’t need to buy individually wrapped product. Think about what you are putting into it as well. Less sugar and processed food and more fresh fruit and vegetables. Talk to your kids and include them in the lunch preparation process.
Some simple practices can keep you engaged in sustainability all year long:
- Use your notebooks all the way through.
- Print on both sides of the paper.
- Recycle all paper and cardboard supplies and compost your lunch leftovers.
- Recycle old technology
Simple practices can go a long way in helping reduce waste.