August is here, which means that the school year is right around the corner. For many families, back to school shopping is a yearly tradition. Having all the right supplies is important, but it is equally important to be a responsible consumer. Here are a few tips of some things to look for to make your back to school shopping sustainable!

1) Leftovers

The first thing each one of us can do is to reuse! At the end of each school year, make sure to save any notebooks, pencils, pens, or any other supplies that are not completely used up. Often times, younger children will have more materials that are leftover to be used again for the next year.

Just tear out the used pages of notebooks and it’s virtually brand new! Also, don’t write the subject material on the front cover of notebooks with permanent marker. Instead, write it inside the front cover with pencil, so that each year, you can use the notebook again. Reusing material is also a fun to do some DIY projects! Create a fun activity with your kids to personalize and rejuvenate used supplies.

2) What is in your supplies?

Considering what is in the school supplies you are buying is important for your children as well as the larger global community. Since being sustainable is becoming something that more and more consumers care about many companies are advertising percentages of less energy used and less greenhouse gas emissions created for the production of their materials. This makes your job easy!

Some keywords to look for include:

  • Recycled
  • Reusable
  • Biodegradable/ compostable
  • Reduced chemical content

There are many words that will indicate socially and environmentally conscious companies. In fact, reduced chemical content means that the process is safer for everyone: for the manufacturers, for the environment, and for the consumers- your children.

3) Research

Finally, the most important thing to do before going to into the consumer world is to do research. Don’t be a blind consumer. Know what you are buying. Know your options. Do a few preliminary searches to find socially responsible companies. An important incentive to buy a backpack is knowing that another similar backpack will be sent to an under-served community in the United States. Being socially conscious is cool!

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