In recent years, environmental awareness has spiked alongside gloomy predictions about climate change and our rapidly evolving society. In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported that more than three-quarters of Americans believe that action is warranted and necessary to protect both our country and world against the possibility of environmental disasters caused by human activity.
But being conscious about your impact on the environment isn’t just trendy – in many cases, it’s a great way to save money and feel good doing it. So when it comes to back to school shopping, going green might not be the first thing to come to mind, but there are opportunities that you can take advantage of to cut down on costly supplies without sacrificing quality.
Take Stock Before You Buy
Have you ever made an impromptu trip to the grocery store and had the debate, “Do we have any of that?” In cases like these, you may end up with a second jar of peanut butter or a dozen eggs on top of the carton you already had.
School supplies are no different – most of the items on your supply list are common things that you may already have around the house. Taking inventory of what you’ve already got at home can prevent you from ending up with duplicate items. And while most school supplies aren’t perishable in the same way as a jug of milk, that doesn’t mean you need to rack up the extra cost (financially and environmentally) of accidentally purchasing too much of something.
Think Reusable, Not Secondhand
In many circles, there can be a negative connotation to the term “used” – pre-owned items are often seen as less viable, subject to the wear and tear of the original owner. But in many cases, secondhand items are just as good as their brand-new counterparts, and a whole lot less expensive. And changing our vocabulary to emphasize that we’re reusing, instead of buying secondhand, makes us feel good about our choices.
Even if you (or your school-aged children) aren’t ready to make a perceived sacrifice to your reputation by purchasing secondhand clothes, there are plenty of other great supplies that you can find cheaper if you’re willing to buy something with a little seasoning. Used or rented textbooks typically cost significantly less than buying new.
Bag It, Box It, Bottle It
We all dream of being the parent that packs a delicious, nutritious lunch for our kids to enjoy at school each day. After all, by packing lunches, we’re encouraging healthy eating habits and saving money – yet on average, 53% of students in public schools purchase lunch on any given day. So why aren’t we sending our children to school with lunch?
Because life gets in the way. Grocery shopping, meal prepping, and packing lunches fall by the wayside to make room for busy calendars and parental fatigue. But by decreasing the number of school lunches our kids buy, we’re not only just exercising control over our children’s nutrition – we’re improving our own lives by trimming food costs. And by using reusable lunch bags and boxes, food storage containers, and bottles, we can double down on the cost savings (and the environmental impact) by cutting back on waste from disposable packaging.