Be Green This Fall

Back-to-school shopping rivals only the December holidays as the busiest and most lucrative period in retail. Avoid the lines and stress this September with these few tips. Oh, and save the planet while you’re at it!

Schools, especially in Manitoba, are emphasising the importance of sustainability. Recycling programs are a given on any campus, and composting projects, school gardens, Fair Trade initiatives, water bottle filling stations, and more are popping up throughout the province. Bring these lessons home by starting the school year off with these few tips:

  • Use what you have. Do your first “shopping trip” around your own house. Odds are you have accumulated more pens, pencils and glue sticks over the years than can fit in your junk drawer. Many of these things are probably left over from school years past! Bonus: your house just lost some clutter.
  • Buy what you need. Does “2 packages of 24 HB pencils” sound familiar? Will your child use or lose that many pencils in one year? To prevent wasting supplies or money, just buy supplies as you need them. When your child does run out of something, then you can get them some more. Bonus: supplies won’t feel disposable to your student, and you might just find they don’t get lost or broken as often because of that.
  • Ask your friends (online and in real life). Some schools are asking for supplies like laptops, ipods, or specialty sports equipment. Check out garage sales or go online. Buy/Sell/Trade pages have become very popular on Facebook and can be especially useful when looking for second-hand tech gadgets or furniture for a dorm.
  • Host a Backyard Boutique. Call your friends over for a barbeque and get them to bring a box of clothes their child has outgrown. Let the kids do the “shopping.” There are no prices here; just take what you like and whatever is left can be donated. When you hit the malls for brand new clothes, keep in mind where they are coming from and who made them. Check out The True Cost movie (on Netflix) before you go.
  • Set the tone. Talk to your kids about why you are reducing, reusing, and recycling this back-to-school season. Start the year with a sustainable mindset: decide to walk or bike to school, swap out plastic baggies for reusable containers, bake homemade granola bars to skip the waste from packaging of store-bought, and make sure everyone in the family is set to go with a BPA-free water bottle.

Elyse Cook is a Family Social Science (Social Development) graduate. She works as the Public Engagement Coordinator for the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation, raising awareness about social justice issues and promoting global citizenship.