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, when you can.

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 are 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:y are

  • 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, aka your children.

Another example of knowing “your supplies” is doing a bit of research. Does the company have an ethical supply chain, where workers along the way are paid well and treated well? Where the environmental impact is minimized?

3) Research

Parent and child walking to schoolFinally, the most important thing to do before going to into the consumer world is to do research. Know what you are buying. Know your options. Do a few preliminary searches to find socially responsible companies.

For example, an important incentive to buy a backpack is knowing that another similar backpack will be sent to a child who really needs a backpack in the United States. There are companies that have this kind of practice built into their mission. Being socially conscious is cool, and also a great way to teach your kids about the collective power of their individual choices.

What do you do to make school shopping more sustainable? Feel free to let us know in the comments below. 

Follow us @kulikulifoods so we can see your favorite ways to support sustainable businesses.

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