Just like that, summer is almost over and “back to school” time is upon us. Well, in Colorado, at least. With heading back to school comes supply shopping. I have to be honest, I LOVED shopping for my school supplies as a kid. Picking out the perfect new notebook and a fun new set of pencils. Getting it all organized. But, still being honest, school supplies that are made of natural materials that do not end up in the landfill are infinitely more beautiful and exciting, in my opinion.
Stop for just a second and think about how many schoolchildren there are across the country. Across the world. And how many of them are buying a pack of Crayola plastic markers for school. And plastic glue sticks. And plastic folders. And plastic binders. And plastic plastic plastic. Where’s it all going to go when they’re done with it or it break? Ok, enough thinking about that, it’s depressing.
In an effort to “green up” your school supplies, here are my tips:
one // Use what you have. Scour your house for leftover paper from last year. Tear pages out of a half-used notebook and send it to school with your kid (no teacher is going to count the number of pages!). Collect some slightly used crayons to make a full set. Take the free folder you got from a work event and put a sticker on it. Don’t buy supplies unless you truly don’t have them.
two // Look for supplies at secondhand stores. I often find paper, pens, pencils, tape, binders, markers and more at Goodwill and other thrift stores. I’m not sure why they’re there or why they didn’t get used, but someone needs to use them up! It’s always better to buy used than to buy “eco-friendly.”
three // Ask around. I posted on a FB group that I was looking for 1” white binders with clear inserts on the front. Turns out someone works in a courthouse where lawyers leave tons of binders lying around after hearings. So I’m going to go “save” two binders and my daughter will be all set for 2nd grade! You never know unless you try.
four // Work together with classmates and friends! Maybe arrange a school supply swap? Or buy things in bulk quantities and split them up amongst the class. Often things are sold in sets that might be more than you need.
five // When all else fails, buy responsibly. The sustainable goods market is taking off, and it’s not as hard as it used to be to find non-plastic materials that are okay for the earth.
Check out these sites:
Wisdom Supply Co. - They have almost everything! markers, crayons, notebooks, folders, pencils, dry erase markers…be sure to read their descriptions of products if you have questions. Very helpful. They also have a fantastic document that shows how to swap their products for the more “traditional” ones you might see on your kid’s supply list.
Package Free Shop - Binders, notebooks, pencils, and crayons. Good place to shop if you also need some household items.
The Ultimate Green Store - Good selection of pencils, markers, and paper products. Other products too, such as backpacks and household items.
Onyx and Green - (Available on Amazon) Made mostly of recycled and natural material. Good middle-ground products.
What do you think? Will you give any of these products a go? Or just buy the traditional ones? Does Crayola pay schools/teachers a dividend or something?
Happy back to school, everyone! Now, if someone could just tell me what to do about the two plastic containers of Clorox wipes I’m supposed to buy…