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Eco-Friendly Shopping Tips for Back-to-School

With the bulk of summer in our rear-view mirrors many families are gearing up to send the kids back to school. This is a bittersweet time of the year, but also a great time to renew your commitment to an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Back-to-school time is big business for retail stores, with lots of paper and plastic products going out the door and eventually into landfills. Here are a few eco-friendly shopping tips to start the new school year off in a mindful and sustainable way.

Photo credit: Melissa Hillier via Flickr

1. Buy 100% Recycled Paper Products

For all your notebooks, computer printer paper, folders, and sketchbooks, make sure that the paper has been created from recycled materials. Fortunately, these products are a lot more common and affordable than they used to be. Then, encourage your kids to recycle used paper in a designated bin at both home and school.

2. Pick FSC Certified Wooden Pencils

Wooden pencils are a classic school supply, but not every pencil is created equal. Look for pencils with a FSC certification stamp. The Forest Stewardship Council confirms that products are coming from specific areas of forests that are managed in a sustainable way.

3. Choose Recycled Plastic Products

Plastic products get a bad rap for polluting the environment, but you can lessen your environmental footprint by buying products made from recycled materials. This includes binders, protractors, rulers, scissors, and pens. If you can find gently-used plastic school supplies, that’s even better because you’re preventing them from ending up in landfills. Using refillable pens is also a great way to reduce plastic waste after the initial ink runs out.

Photo credit: Morgan via Flickr 

4. Reduce Clothing Waste

Buying new clothes for the new school year is an annual tradition in many households. But clothes waste is polluting the environment as growing kids toss out last year’s favorites in exchange for a new wardrobe.

Instead of throwing away clothes that don’t fit anymore, donate them to a local charity or consider organizing a neighborhood clothing swap. Turn thrift shop and consignment store shopping into an adventure or a scavenger hunt to breathe new life into unique pieces of clothing. Shopping for used clothes is a great way to save money too.

For items that you want to buy brand-new, browse the eco-friendly options at retailers like the ones listed here. In general, you’ll want to look for formaldehyde-free fabrics and sustainable fibers like organic cotton, industrial hemp, bamboo, wool, and recycled polyester. In addition to having no chemical finishes or toxic dyes, authentically eco-friendly clothing brands often support fair labor practices as well.

5. Homeopathic First Aid Supplies

Bumps, bruises, cuts, and scrapes happen all too commonly on the playground at recess. Before the school year starts and your kids’ sports practices start up, stock up on all-natural and homeopathic first aid supplies for the house and car.

Our Olive Leaf Cut & Wound Remedy and Bye Bye Burns are great products to have on hand if you have kids that are going back to school. These are non-toxic homeopathic medicines that work by stimulating the body’s curative responses and allow it to heal itself without the use of pharmaceutical or antiseptic chemicals.

What’s one way that you keep the environment in mind during back-to-school season? Share your tip with us in the comment section below!

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