It might still be summer, but we all know how how quickly time will fly between now and arriving back at the school gates… that is, if you haven’t started school already! Back to school shopping can be as as hard on morale as it is on your wallet. However, it doesn’t have to be. We have our favorite, savvy ways to help you get more out of your back to school shopping list and keep items lasting for longer.
Think year-round when it comes to clothing.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pair shorts with a winter jacket throughout the majority of the fall and spring when temperatures fluctuate, but there are easier ways to cut down on costs and save precious real estate in the closet, too. Whatever the season may be, purchase your back to school clothes with the intention of using them year-round. Buying clothes made for layering is one great way to squeeze more mileage out of them. As an example, in the cooler fall months, pair a jean jacket or cardigan with the same short-sleeved shirts that you would wear independently in the summer and spring.
Additionally, considering what styles stretch throughout the entire year is helpful. While a palm tree print shirt might look great in the summer, you probably aren’t going to reach for that style in the dead of winter. When you buy clothing that works regardless of the season, you are going to do less with more and also avoid looking what fashion stylists lovingly dub “seasonally confused”.
Pack a more sustainable lunch.
Between plastic baggies, disposable dishware, and individually packaged bags of chips, lunch time causes a lot of drama for landfills. While a tiny lunch box packed with these items might not seem like much, when these items are packed five days a week in most lunchboxes throughout the entire country, all of that non-recyclable trash really adds up. Quickly. Instead of using plastic bags or one-use containers for your world famous PB&J or last night’s leftovers, invest in a reusable container to store it.
As for those individual snack bags that make so much extra trash… we aren’t going to tell you to cut back on the chips. We actually want you to eat more of them! Buy a bigger, family-sized bag instead and then pack a handful or two in a reusable snack bag. Not only will this make landfills happier, but your wallet, too! Those individually packaged snacks can cost 5x more than large bags… for a fraction of the snacks by weight! Any rip-off on snacks, especially one that large, should be outlawed. #justiceforchips — get it trending.
Get a “long-term” backpack.
While the flashy superhero backpack or the ultra-glittery one with six unicorns on it are what every first grader [loudly] begs for, it might be in your and their best interest to invest in a more neutral looking one. Save yourself the trouble (and heartbreak!) of having your kids return from school only to tell you that they are “too old” for “x” and refuse to even look at that “But it’s for babies!” backpack ever again in defiant protest. Solid colors are always a safe pick and are more likely to last you throughout the entire year, if not the years to come! Sorry, unicorns.
Better your notebooks.
It’s the little things that make a difference, especially when it comes to back to school shopping. When you are buying notebooks, reach for the ones that are made with recycled paper. Most notebooks will boast their recycled production on the front cover, but if not, peek inside of the cover flaps to make sure it’s noted. Many notebooks don’t use recycled paper, but to profit off the trend, add “flecks” to the paper during production. This makes the paper appear “earthy” and recycled, even though most recycled papers don’t have these imperfections and look indistinguishable from freshly-chopped white pages! Being environmentally-conscious, even in the smallest of ways, has a great impact on the state of our environment. By purchasing recycled paper notebooks, you can feel good knowing that more trees get to flourish in their natural environment, unharmed. Now that’s something to write home about.
Buy the right kind of water bottles.
We sound like a broken record, but until reusable water bottles are the norm, we’re going to keep this song on repeat. A million plastic water bottles are produced every minute and are gravely hurting our oceans and landfills. Considering that water is mostly free, too, plastic bottles simply aren’t worth the cost. It’s time for a more friendly option that doesn’t involve heavy pollution or worrying about how many germs are on the school’s water fountain mouthpiece (we don’t want to gross you out, but there are a lot). Reusable bottles are the best solution. Simply, reusable bottles rock. Many reusable water bottles keep drinks cold all day long or have infusers that you can add fruit to for flavored water. Keep your student hydrated all day long with a bottle built to last until graduation.
Just because there is a new school year every year doesn’t mean that there needs to be an entirely new shopping list every year. Take advantage of the fresh start and begin this year and the years to follow on the right note. Stretch this year’s back to school haul well into the future with our tips so that you can get our favorite equation right, every time: shopping smart + saving more = school success.