As we prepare our children to return to school (at last!) we thought we would share some of our top tips for less waste and impact...
1. Stocktake Your Supplies!
Before you buy more school supplies, check what you already have that can be used again. We know it can be lovely to start school with all new things but does your child really need a new pencil case, ruler, backpack and lunchbox?
Make a list of what you really need before going to the shop and stick to it! Try not to be tempted by the new sparkly plastic unicorn/dinosaur pencil case! I’m very proud to say that Ted’s pencil case is still going strong into its 4th year now and he’s not asking for anything new :-)
2. Second Hand Uniforms
It’s so easy to buy new uniforms. They are fairly affordable and widely available in the shops with less choice for a second hand option. But we could all ask family and friends who have older kids for their old uniforms. This is what I have done for my daughter – I have her cousin’s old uniform in the attic ready for when she starts big school!
Try buying one size bigger so that you can try to get a couple of years out of their uniforms – I did this for Ted and actually got 3 years from his school jumper! (I just tucked his sleeves in when it was still too long and he didn’t mind at all). This is not just more sustainable but also saves you money.
3. Buy Eco-Friendly School Supplies
If you have to buy new, then try to choose eco-friendly options. More retailers now offer eco-friendly versions of everyday school supplies such as recycled pencils, biros and paper.
4. Pack A Lunch
Try to pack a lunch with healthy wholefoods and zero or minimal plastic packaging – I know this can be challenging but every small effort counts! Ditch the disposable plastic water bottles and go for reusable water bottles.
To minimise food waste, get kids involved in choosing lunch ingredients. I’ll be going through the lunch ideas in this link with Ted to see if any of it entices him!
5. Use Non-Toxic Lunch Boxes & Water Bottles
Did you know that most plastic lunch boxes and water bottles contain toxic BPA, PVC or phthalates or even lead that can cause health problems? They are also constantly breaking and need replacing - adding more plastic pollution in our environment. Why not opt for a stainless steel lunch box and water bottle? They’ll last for years, even if it’s constantly dropped and will not leach harmful toxic plastic chemicals into your child’s food and water. When I used to go to school in Australia (decades ago), my parents never bought new school uniforms. Schools had a recycled uniform room where students dropped their old uniforms when they left school, ready for new students to pick up uniforms. We also never bought any textbooks as everything was provided to us at the start and returned it at the end of the school year, with payment only needed for damage or loss.
It would be great to see Ireland adopt some of these ideas. Not only would it save parents some money but also reduce unnecessary waste.
Do you have other school tips you could share with us?
Does your school have a second hand uniform shop?
Do you agree that books should be provided by school and returned at the end of the school year?
Is this something you could arrange at your child's school or discuss at your next School Meeting?
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Hoping all kids are happy and healthy and eager to return to school and their friends,
Keelly & Arianne xxx