green your back to school shopping list

Green Your Back to School Shopping List

August 21, 2019

Do you get a little anxiety when it comes to back to school shopping? Those lists of needs are long and how much does your kid actually need? Plus, it seems like a lot of waste, especially if you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious when it comes to purchasing. So how do you green your back to school shopping list to better reflect your values while also making sure your kids have what they need?

It’s a lot simpler than you think.

More than anything it involves a bit of a mindset shift, as well as some creative thinking when it comes to where you purchase or what you choose to send your kids to school with.

To help you out, here are my top tips for a greener back to school shopping list:

Green Your Back to School Supply List: Eco-Friendly Options and Practices

Those back to school supplies lists are usually full of not-so-environmentally-friendly needs like paper towels, cleaning wipes, tissue boxes, markers, binders, and plastic baggies.

The first thing you can do is to seek out environmentally-friendly companies or companies with eco-friendly practices. For example, you can send in paper towels and tissue boxes from Who Gives a Crap, which is a company that doesn’t use any plastic in their packaging.

You can look for Seventh Generation cleaning wipes or a similar company that doesn’t use bleach and has a recyclable container.

If you’re just purchasing for your own kids, you can get a back-to-school supply kit from Wisdom Supply Co, which does zero waste back to school binders, pencils, paper, markers, highlighters, and other common supplies.

If you are shopping locally, you can make sure that you bring your own cloth bags to Office Depot or Target or wherever you do your back to school shopping.

And as a BONUS ACTION, you can suggest these greener options to your school principal or the board of education. Remind them that a green back to school shopping list promises a better future for students now and ones to come later.

Green Your Back to School Clothes, Backpacks, and Lunchboxes: Reuse and Refuse!

I know there’s a lot of pressure to buy a brand new wardrobe for your kids at the beginning of the school year. Backpacks, lunchboxes, and water bottles are usually on that list, too.

Ignore the pressure. Refuse to buy into that consumerist mindset.

If your kids still fit into their clothes from last year, they don’t need new clothes yet. When they do need new clothes, you can get lots of awesome stuff from thrift stores or consignment stores.

You can also try doing clothing swaps with other local moms or hand-me-downs from friends with older kids. My 6 year old daughter is still wearing clothes gifted to us by a dear friend right after my daughter was born.

If you’re really into new clothes — meaning clothes never worn by another person — there are some wonderful eco-friendly companies making more conscious clothing. Look into those, first before heading to Target.

And please avoid Walmart at all costs for clothes or supplies of any kind. Their clothes are poorly made, designed to wear out fast. And are often mass-produced in unhealthy conditions for the garment workers who are not paid well for their efforts.

As for the backpacks and lunchboxes, if they’re still in good condition don’t replace them. Reuse them. My kids are still using their backpacks and lunchboxes from last year. No holes and no major damage, so they’re good to go for awhile.

Green Your Kids Lunches: Ditch the Single Use Plastic!

School lunches are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to not-so-earth-friendly practices.

The biggest issue is with single use plastic items, like individually wrapped snacks and juice boxes.

Instead of using individually wrapped snacks or juice boxes, opt for packing snacks in non-plastic containers. My favorites come from Lunchskins, but there are lots of wonderful brands out there. Beeswax wraps like Abeego are also great for containing food. If your kid really needs juice, try putting some juice is a smaller reusable bottle.

I know it’s easier to just get a big box of single wrapped snacks and toss them in the lunchbox. It’s just harder on the planet. And the solution is really simple.


These are my top tips to green your back to school shopping list.

Do you have any good tips to share? Anything I’m missing?

Let me know in the comments below!


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