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Back to school shopping and staying Green

July 31, 2019

A new school year is a great opportunity to start fresh if you’re a student buying your own supplies, or a parent getting your kids ready for the year. Much like a New Year’s resolution, we find ourselves planning new habits as we walk down the aisles and fill our baskets with pens, binders, notebooks and backpacks.

The Survey of Household Spending in Canada from December 2018 shows the average expenditure on education by all households in Canada was $1,688. Back-to-school spending in Canada this year is set to increase by approximately 4% over last year, according to Ernst & Young. That cost is split between new clothing, electronics and school supplies. With all that financial stress on parents, how can they manage the time to find greener options for their kids?

The first option is reuse. Most kids want new clothes when they go back to school, but the costs can add up. Second hand clothing from Value Village, swap and buys and garage sales can help save big dollars, and produce less waste. 

The next step is to avoid waste. It’s always great to get new stuff, but what about those extra scraps of looseleaf or unfinished notebooks? Over seven billion pens are thrown away in North America every year, according to TreeHugger.com. It’s a good idea to take inventory of what you have leftover from last year, and avoid buying duplicates. 

Try greener supplies. Refillable or biodegradable pencils can now be found in most school supply shops. There are even 100% fully recyclable notebooks in circulation that use unbleached paper. Buy a reusable lunch bag and food baggies rather than a brown paper bag or one-use zip sandwich bags. Ensure your children use a refillable water bottle and washable utensils in their lunches. Encourage your kids to be conscious of how much they use, and what wastes they can avoid. This will ultimately save you money, and help us put less in the landfills.

National Retail Federation spending numbers: https://smallbiztrends.com/2019/07/2019-back-to-school-statistics.html

Tree Hugger tips: https://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-back-to-school.html