By Christine Hill

Go back to school in style with a sustainable and economical pack of supplies.

As summer fades into fall, the hustle and bustle of back to school shopping begins. The pressure to buy new clothes and school supplies, along with healthy daily lunch prep can be tedious and time consuming for the eco-conscious shopper. With a little planning and these back-to-school tips, your fall transition can be easy on you and the environment.

School Lunch prep

il_570xN.355291141_it791. This school year, skip the disposable plastic sandwich bags and choose BPA-free reusable containers instead.

2. Pack a washable cloth napkin, thermos and reusable utensils.

3. Pack lunches the night before, and choose fresh fruit over prepackaged food.

4. When buying fruits and vegetables for school lunches, support local farmers markets.

5. Use a stainless steel or up-cycled lunch box.

School supplies

6. When buying supplies, resist the urge to buy in bulk. Instead, find last year’s unused school supplies and look for items that can be reused.kids-recycling-photo

7. Designate a storage space for school supplies at home to prevent overbuying every year.

8. Buy recycled paper, and encourage your kids to start recycling now to make it a life-long practice.

9.Consider using cardboard or canvas binders instead of standard plastic binders.

10. Choose refillable or biodegradable pens and recycled pencils.

Big purchases

11. If this is the year for a desk or computer for your student, consider buying used or repurposed items. Surplus Exchange, 518 Santa Fe St., Kansas City, MO, sells gently used and refurbished computers, laptops, iPads, tablets, printers and other electronics. There’s also a big supply of desks, chairs, file cabinets and other furniture.

Back-to-school clothes

12. The first day of school outfit can be a big decision for kids and parents each year. Make sure your students know that trendy and fashionable clothes can be found in thrift shops and second-hand stores. Always check that each potential purchase is in its best condition, unless you plan on repurposing and restyling it. YouTube is a great resource for thrift store inspiration with “Thrift Store Hauls” and tips for finding the best quality and deals on kids and adult clothes. If you are not in need of school clothes, use the thrift store as an accessory haven for other back-to-school needs.

Leave us a comment – what are your eco-friendly back-to-school tips?

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