Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back to School

It's that time again...time to think of ways to send your kids (or you) back to school in ecological style.

Things to think about - durability, materials, where it's made, ecological impact

Supplies - Crayola "is getting greener"...they now package their products in recycled paper packages and even offer markers made of recycled plastic and products made using solar power (I noticed these last year, so they shouldn't be hard to find).

Lots of other companies are now offering items made of recycled materials - buying cheap will ensure that the product will not last as cheap really isn't all that cheap.

EarthBinder (recycled binders)
Sasquatch recycled school supplies (mainly paper goods)
Ecosmart World - A Back to School Guide for Students Going Green

Lunch - buying snacks in bulk uses a lot less packaging than individual servings packaged separately; use lunch totes and refillable stainless steel drink containers; try out some re-usable snack bags (Snack Taxi and Re Pac - made in the USA). Check out the Re Pac website (Snack Taxi is already in my "Google This" link list). Re Pac is currently offering a 1/2 off discount through mamasource.

Clothes and shoes - try to buy Made in USA...and remember, it's better to buy fewer things that are well made than to buy a bunch of cheap stuff that will look terrible after a few washes/wears (it can be hard to convince young ones of this) - just a note - many New Balance shoes are made in the USA. Also, check out your local thrift stores and check out this TED talk about recycled fashion (it might convince your teenagers).

All of us are trying to make our dollars stretch further these days, but it's no excuse to throw our money away on cheap crap. Kids are hard on their stuff, so well-made things are important.

Backpacks - this is another instance where it's way better to buy a good one that will last for years - L.L. Bean (made in Maine/USA) will even monogram the bag - and they offer matching lunch totes - Jansport (made in the UK) packs are also pretty well made for a decent price. Both companies provide replacement parts, warranties, and service.

Getting back into the routine - Most parents realize that kids do best with a routine...but summer is notorious for spontaneity, later bedtimes, and relaxed rules. It's important to re-institute school-year routines at least a week or two before school starts. Gradually move back to a normal bedtime (this goes for adults, too), and figure out how and when things will get done during the week - chores, meal prep, homework, sports, music lessons. No kid is too young to have a part in this. I love this little gem: The Melissa & Doug responsibility board:

Here's to a great new year!

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