Ah back to school. Some people's favorite time of the year. Not mine. It's expensive, it's sad. I miss my Shorts, Pants and Pantaloons.
Typical back to school prep can be so wasteful. There are options to go less wasteful while making sure your children have all the supplies they need to get the job done. Not only that, but they will be learning how to 'Save the Earth', as mine say.
Don't forget, items will make your child unique! Maybe even sparking some conversations with other parents and students!
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So let's get started!
This one is REALLY easy. Avoid those laminated, plastic backpacks. They don't last more than a few months anyway. Get a sturdy backpack. Check zippers. Check pockets. Test the fabric. Make sure it is washable. The BEST way to be Zero Waste when it comes to Back packs is making sure it will be a long time before you buy another one. Buying used it great but be sure it's in great condition and CLEAN, cared for. It's worth spending a few more for a long lasting item. Here's some options I REALLY love. Each link has different colors/patterns so it would be quite easy to find one to fit a style!
Papers, papers, Papers...
When back to school comes up, there are always 500,000,000 papers. From art projects to consent forms. You name it. That art is fabulous and those forms are necessary. How can we help? Save what you love, reuse and compost what you want. Recycling should be lower. Under reuse and compost. I love reusing papers by shredding them! I start my fermented compost with them, make paper cement for gifts and personal use, stuffing for my crochet dolls and projects, insulation, and as bedding for animal cages. Any way you can think to reuse it, do. If you don't want the hassle, compost. If you don't have a compost, recycle.
Another great way to help is by purchasing more sustainable options for our own children to use. Instead of non-recycled paper, opt for more eco-friendly options!
Need a binder for all those papers?
Pencils and Pens
We all need to write. The art of handwriting is going extinct. Yes, it's less wasteful to use an electronic device but there is just something about the mental connection between manual writing and mental retention that I love.
No matter how much we may want to move all things to electronics, schools often require pens and pencils. Another great option is a refillable mechanical pencil made of recycled materials!
Crayons and markers
Art is such a wonderful form! To be able to express ourselves with such a fun way! Here are some more sustainable ideas.
There are SO MANY options for vegan and zero waste crayons but not many for markers. So, marker companies... get off your bums already!
Glue, scissors and Rulers
Almost all schools require glue. Normal glue is made from animals! Avoid!
Scissors, rulers and the like are so easy to find in stainless steel. Stainless steel still used resources to create but it will probably last longer. If your school requires plastic handles or safety, just reuse them year after year!
Lunch is GREAT. Eating school lunches can be less wasteful as it is made in bulk. Plus, many schools just wash trays to reuse!
If you have to send a lunch (I do because picky eaters) here are some AWESOME options, many I have and love!
Also, consider making your own reusable bags! If you can sew, there are MANY tuts on making lunch bags, reusable snack bags and more! I even have one... *kinda*.
Buying gently used second hand is by far one of the greatest Zero Waste things we can do. You can find bulk shirt or pants sets on eBay! I love those! Thrift store shopping has become a norm for us, we really love a good hunt for our favorite brands, characters and styles.
We do splurge on new things, especially shoes. The Smart Kids seem to go through shoes like bread and vegan-butter. Here are some of my favorite choices.
The Smart Girl in Pants