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      News — Back to School

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      Zero Waste Back to School Tips

      Zero Waste Back to School Tips

      Shop Zero Waste for Back to School

      Back to School Season means shopping.  It's a tradition to start the school year with brand new clothing, backpack and school supplies.  The truth is many purchases are unnecessary, expensive and create loads of trash.  Save money and save the planet with some simple tips to help you go Zero Waste.

      Let's start with clothing.  The first day of school is exciting and everyone wants to look their best for the photos but... " fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world, second only to oil."  This was a statement made by clothing designer Eileen Fisher in an EcoWatch blog post. There are a lot of issues involved- raw materials, production, distribution and finally disposal of used clothing. One strong philosophy of zero waste is to buy quality that will last.  When purchasing new clothing buy garments that are fashionable and well constructed.  When your child outgrows their clothing pass it along to a friend, neighbor, resell or charity shop.  Shopping at consignment boutiques and charity shops is both budget and eco friendly.  The problem with buying trendy and cheap clothing is they rarely last through multiple washing and the abundance of cheap, worn out clothing is literally clogging up our earth.  For more info on this serious topic check out 1 Million Women's Fast Fashion blog.

      Zero Waste Back to School

      Next the backpack.  Buy the sturdiest backpack you can find, either at a resell shop or from a good quality outfitter- think L L Bean, Land's End, Jansport.  Look for a company that has a genuine guarantee.   While the initial purchase will be pricier than a discount backpack, you want a backpack that will last for years.  But you can't buy a large backpack for your child to grow into because to be comfortable it needs to fit properly.  The perfect fit is below the shoulder blades and ending right around the waist.  This means a backpack or bag for the preschool years, one for primary and perhaps another larger one for the elementary years.  Any big growth spurt means time to buy another back pack.  That's why it's so important to buy quality- your outgrown backpack will be perfect for another student.  Another tip is to launder the backpack regularly.  It's best to turn the backpack inside out before putting into the washing machine.  Of course, as time goes on it will show signs of wear but keeping it clean will extend the life and appeal to the next owner.  You can add a bit of excitement each school year by applying patches, cool pins or zipper pulls.

      I also recommend purchasing a good quality water bottle.  In fact depending on the age of your child you might have to buy more than one.  Hydrating keeps us at  our physical and mental best.  You might need a water bottle for the lunch box, one to stay at school and one to keep in the backpack.  Again, it's quality over price.  Avoid cheap plastic water bottles that contain nasty toxins.  You want a water bottle that is leak proof, insulated, non-toxic and dishwasher safe.     

      clean around the house first for school supplies.

      For school supplies start with a hunt around your house.  I know I have drawers, tins and cups full of all kind of writing supplies.  I think it's fair to say to our kids that before we buy new we're going to use up what we have.  It's a good life style policy to instill as early as possible.  You might even donate a box of found supplies to your child's classroom.  When walking down the back to school aisles look for paper products that contain some percentage of recycled paper. Purchase from companies that are working for a better future.  Crayola has an easy four simple steps marker recycling program called colorcycle.

      There are many other ways to be more green when going back to school including lunches which is the subject of another blog.


      Back to School Means More Trash- Tips to Help You Zero Waste the Transition

      Back to School Means More Trash- Tips to Help You Zero Waste the Transition

      I've put off writing about reducing plastic consumption and kids because it's so complicated.  Mostly because I've found in my grown up/no kids life that it takes quite a bit of planning and organization to reduce my plastic use.  I travel a lot to markets and on my occasional overnights I find I do great the first day but the next day is a challenge.  I'm tired, hungry, don't know the area and that's when I consume more products packed in plastic.

      When my daughter Carly was young, I lived year round on a remote Maine island.  We were homesteaders, growing our own food and I worked from home.  I didn't have to organize backpacks, lunch boxes, snacks and extra clothes- not to mention homework, books and a few toys for the car.  And that's not even taking into account winter- with boots, hats, etc.  Our life's are filled with busy and "hurry-up" which is why plastic is so popular- it's convenience.  But because we have kids and grandkids and we want them to have a lovely future we each need to make small steps towards living a plastic free life.

      Check out our tips for less trash with the back to school routine.

      The first thing you have to do is pick an area to focus on and the lunch box is a great place to start.  One of my favorite places to shop for reusable containers is Reuseit.   Especially if you are on a budget, you need to start small and keep adding because you want to buy high quality items that will last.  It's counterproductive to buy flimsy containers that won't last- it's a waste of money and makes trash.  


      Start with a good, rather large lunch container.  I find in general, when you use reusable containers you need more room.  You might want to pack a couple of containers- one for lunch and one for snacks.  When you decide to replace plastic bags- there's a new product on the market, silicone reusable bags.  The bags are dishwasher and microwave safe but they are pricy.  One bag cost around $12.00- but will last and last.  Another great container in my opinion is the reusable juice box.  According to Reuseit, "juice boxes are one of the most wasteful parts of lunchtime".  A single box takes over " 300 years to decompose and nearly 4 billion are consumed annually."  At $9.95 per single box these are do-able, especially if you normally buy at least 8 juice pouches a week.  If juices are not on sale it will cost you around $5.00 per week.  Over the year you'll be spending over 250 dollars on single use juice boxes.  You can buy a lot of reusable juice boxes for that amount.  And you do need to buy more than one.  We're talking kids here- so one in the lunch box, one in the snack bag, one for the car, one left at school and one under the bed.  

      Raising kids is complicated, reducing your plastic consumption is complicated.  The reason we change is For The Future.