Monday, August 6, 2012

How to be green when back to school shopping

Last weekend Iowa had their annual tax free weekend, where shopping centers state-wide are filled with back to school shoppers. Between pencils, backpacks, and new clothes it's hard to remember to be sustainable when dealing with crowds and children who want the folder with the newest fad on the front. Here's our 5 tips for having a greener back to school experience. 

1) Try to reuse: When you get that back to school shopping list it's a lot easier to just shop there. Most stores carry the lists for you, so you pick it up and buy everything on it while you're their. It is better to start with your list at home. Cross off those scissors, pencils, and protractors that you still have from last year and save a little money as well. 

2) If possible, buy refillable: Refillable pens and pencils are initially a little more expensive than the disposable ones, but they are definitely more sustainable, and they usually last longer than their disposable counterpoints as well. 

3) Look for recycled products: Notebooks, planners, pencils, pens, and computer paper made from recycled materials are all available from mainstream shops now. Recycled paper works great for anything a student would need it for, and it's the more earth friend option than virgin paper. Using recycled plastic or wood in your pencils and pens are also no different than the non-recycled ones, but they make a much smaller impact.

4) Reusable bottles and lunch bags: Purchasing reusable lunch bags can save another brown bag from going in a landfill, and reusable bottles can be filled with whatever your child's favorite drink it, be it chocolate milk or juice, without having to buy individual milk cartons or juice boxes. 

5) Spring for high quality: When buying long term items like backpacks and lunch boxes, spending a little bit more can end up saving you money in the long run. When buying a backpack try to lead your children away from the superheros and television or movie characters that they may like this year, often times those interests are short lived. Instead buy a plain, good quality backpack. If they still want their character on the bag, just buy a patch or a pin for them to clip to the outside. Then they can change interest every year and you can keep the same backpack.

With these tips you'll be sure to have a more sustainable and possibly a cheaper back to school shopping experience. 

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