Back to School Zero Waste Style
Ah that time of year again when you see the shops filled with stressed, overtired parents, dragging their winging kids behind them, carrying stationary lists, looking confused, bewildered and longing for it to be “over.” So many $$$ spent on brand new latest and greatest “things” because it’s not cool to use the same backpack or lunch box or shoes 2 Years in a row – heaven forbid.
It saddens me that we as a society are raising kids that simply expect that this is the way that life is. Just because we no longer particularly love the item, or we’ve seen something better, prettier, more flashy, these days that means we simply shove our previous items in a cupboard or drawer, and go buy the latest thing. How very, very sad…
Anyway- I feel it’s our responsibility, both to our Planet, our Children and our Wallets, to stand up and say NO! No to always having to be seen with the latest anything and YES to a more sustainable alternative.
Now, I know things wear out, break, get lost etc. so now that my rant is over (haha) here is my practical guide to “Back to School Zero Waste Style”
1/ Assess what you already have – this should always be the first step – do the uniforms still fit? Can they be handed down to the next child if they don’t? Most schools these days have unisex Shirts/Polos for everyday wear – whenever my eldest grows out (or should I say up) of a school polo, it goes in my youngest’s wardrobe for when it’s needed. Same with Shoes etc. IF uniforms are needed, your local Op Shop is pretty much guaranteed to have your local schools uniforms racked up and waiting for you. My son’s entire uniform the first year of his schooling was op shopped for $6 in TOTAL! Shirt, shorts and Hat! I even got him a school jacket for winter for an extra $2. Shoes are the same, so many people now to the pressure of winging kids and buy new ones each year, happy news for people like us, we get a selection of barely worn items to select from. Also, the school is bound to have ways of getting you second hand items, be it through your P&C or the school notice board/Fb group. Someone always has something they’re willing to sell/give away.
*Backpacks DO NOT NEED TO BE REPLACED EVERY YEAR unless they are worn out beyond repair – my eldest has had hers since she started school, only this year has it finally gone beyond help and so for Christmas she received a new one. I searched and searched til I found one that I am sure would be practical for her growing load of work she brings home and will fit everything else needed in it. IF a new one is needed, OP SHOP BEFORE YOU SHOP! My Son’s Spider Man backpack came from an op shop for $4, he loves it, his mates think it’s cool and I didn’t have to spend $$$ unnecessarily.
*Lunch boxes are the same – again, if it’s not broken, don’t replace it! And if it needs replacing, OP SHOP for one! Both my children have op shopped lunch boxes, they cost me $1 each and are all they need. My daughter took to hers with stickers to “girlify” it. This stops the need for evil PLASTIC bags that cost us money and then get thrown away without care or thought. Water bottles are a Dime a dozen in op shops too.
2/Stationary Lists are tricky, but can be done fairly Zero Waste if you have the patience- now this isn’t for everyone, but for those of you who really are stepping up your sustainable game, Op Shops once more to the rescue. The sheer amount of stationary items that get dumped on op shops is astounding. People don’t know what to do with the extra items that get sent home at the end of the year, so they normally just donate them. Folders, pencil cases, scrap books, exercise books all of this, scissors, rulers etc… Trust me, it’s all there! Other than that, ask again at the school, many people don’t even bother collecting their children’s spare stationary at the end of each year, so this could be an option for cheap/free stationary for your child.
3/ School Lunches
Yikes! The amount of WASTE that is generated by school lunches scares me. The lunch boxes that I op shopped for my kids have multiple compartments so that plastic zip lock bags are not needed! I bulk buy snacks like dried fruit bites, soy crisps, veggie chips etc. On Sunday nights I bake either muffins/banana bread/cookies of some sort – package free of course – they get fruit, a sandwich, some snacks and a baked item each day – plenty of nutritious, Zero Waste food to fuel them for learning/playing. Now, I totally get that not all of you out there bake or cook etc. – there are SO MANY ZERO WASTE OPTIONS for lunches out there. You can buy baked goods from bakeries, 99% of them are happy to put the items in your own container/bag. Bulk Stores like I mentioned have many snack options, package free. Farmers markets these days include many people who bake and make delicious, package free goodies that you can purchase, take home and portion out into containers for the week ahead.
All it takes is a little planning, thinking ahead and Ta Da!
I hope this has been informative and helpful, please, let me know if you have questions. Drop me an email, hit me up on my Instagram page etc.
This is a journey, it takes a village and that’s what this Zero Waste community is all about.
Best of luck in the 2018 school year for you and your munchkins now, someone pass the wine!