Back-to-School Shopping Goes Green
Tap into eco-friendly school supplies for your student this fall. Taking a green approach to back-to-school shopping might help save some trees and teach your kids about the environment. To fill your school-supply shopping cart without filling a landfill, try these green shopping strategies:
There’s nothing as green as reusing. Does everyone in the household really need a new backpack, lunchbox, binders, notebooks, and thermos? Probably not. If it’s still in good shape, use it again.
Avoid PVC. Not all backpacks are going to survive two years in one active kid’s possession. If you do need to replace what you’ve got, look for something made of the best eco-friendly materials. PVC and vinyl are particularly bad offenders that are commonly found in backpacks, binders, and anything with colorful coating (like novelty paperclips). Look for tags that say PVC-free.
Plastic-free lunches that come back for more. Feeling bad about all those plastic baggies in the lunchbox? Reusable lunch containers sound like a green idea, right? Well . . . maybe. Make sure that you are find BPA-free storage containers, which often means avoiding plastic altogether. Look for fun, new possibilities like washable fabric sandwich bags.
Don’t forget the little guys. Can you believe that 1.6 million plastic pens go to landfills every single year in the United States? Disposable items add up fast, even when they’re small. And it’s still hard to find fully recycled notebooks, although they’re out there. It may make sense to buy something more expensive but reusable (like a metal, refillable pen) or to spend a little extra to get biodegradable or fully recycled items.
Get rid of it — the right way. Some things can’t keep going year after year. If you’re lucky, it can go in the recycling bin. If not, there may still be ways to be green with the trash. Those non-biodegradable pens? There’s a man collecting them for a found-art project that teaches about bio-responsibility. Unexpected recycling opportunities include tennis shoes, Crocs, flip-flops, batteries, damaged CDs, old VHS tapes, empty ink cartridges and even bottle caps.
Get the kids involved. Do your green strategies turn your kids into little green monsters? Try rewarding their cooperation with green points that they can trade in for things they like. Keeping last year’s backpack might earn them ten points, while remembering to turn off the light could earn them two more. Have them help make a reward chart for things they love (movie night for fifty green points, for example).
Make it a school fund-raising project. Get the whole school involved by collecting recyclable items that can be exchanged for money. Organizations like Terracycle and EcoPhones provide options for a fundraiser that takes away unwanted items (instead of selling them!) and brings in money for the school.