Head of the Class
The school year is about to begin. I always loved back to school shopping (if you have seen the commercial with the girl enthused about having a binder for every day of the week you have a pretty good image of me as a child). However, now as a certified reducer, reuser, recycler, rotter, and rebuyer (the three r’s are so passe – we’re up to 5 r’s now) I came up with 5 tips to reduce purchases made at the beginning of the school year.
- Assess. What will still work from last year? Some items may have survived the year before and can be used again. When I was growing up my mom would always wash our backpacks at the end of the school year and repack them with items that were still in usable condition. If you have items that are not going to make it another year, look into recycling options. Crayons, glue bottles, and fabric can all be recycled.
- The Paper Problem. Depending on your student, it may make sense to purchase a binder with tabs for each class and fill with loose leaf paper rather than individual notebooks or a multi-subject notebook. This way there is not those left over sheets in the binder at the end of the year. If your child’s teacher does not already save paper that has been only used on one side, consider saving it at home for scratch paper or first draft paper.
- Quality Over Quantity. Make sure when you do purchase items that they will last the entire year or beyond. Consider purchasing a plain colored backpack and decorate it with patches that can be modified as your child’s tastes change rather than a lesser quality backpack that will not be ‘en vogue’ even if it manages to survive to next year.
- Munch Much? One of the easiest ways to reduce trash throughout the year is to get your child a lunch box and reusable containers. This allows you to buy in bulk and avoid one use items like the single servings of applesauce and plastic baggies. Using a lunch box, reusable containers, and a thermos will save 67 lbs of waste from entering the landfill this school year. Also, your child’s school is paying for that garbage to be thrown away. Think of how much money could be saved if most kids in the school reduced lunch waste to this degree! If you compost at home, also have your child bring home food scraps to add to the pile or bin. I recently posted a link to a post about vermi-composting which is not only a great way to reduce waste, but it is also educational!
- Rebuy. When you do need to purchase an item, make sure there is recycled content when possible. Tissues, writing paper, rulers, pencil bags: all this and much more can be purchased with recycled content. Post-consumer content is best because that means it was purchased from a Materials Recycling Facility and your purchase is helping rebuild these commodity markets.
What do you plan to do to reduce waste this year?