Green Back to School Tips

Summer is almost over! It’s time to reclaim your sanity and send the kids back to school. But before you head to the store for your back to school shopping, take a few minutes to consider how you can make this time of year a little more eco-friendly. Here are a few tips that can help you get back to school the green way:

School Supplies

First of all, find out what school supplies you are responsible for, and which the school will provide. There is no point in doubling consumption by buying what the school is already providing. Get a list from the school, and avoid over-buying.

Next, before you buy items that are on your list, check to see if you have some of them already. You might have some leftover supplies from years past. There’s no reason to purchase those items you already have.

For items that you do end up needing to buy, see if you can get post-consumer products that are made — at least partially — from recycled materials. Binders made of cardboard or canvas can be purchased; you don’t have to get plastic. You should try to avoid plastic, especially those containing BPAs, whenever possible with your school supplies.

Lunch Time

You can make your child’s lunch time greener, and healthier, by following a few tips:

  • Use a reusable bag or box. There are plenty of bags and boxes that come BPA-free.
  • This applies to drink containers as well. Send a thermos, instead of sending something in packaging that has to be thrown out.
  • Food can be kept in reusable containers as well. Just wash each day.
  • Send reusable utensils, rather than disposable forks and spoons.
  • Consider buying a few high-quality cloth napkins. These can be washed with the laundry, and reused.

You can make lunches healthier by using locally-sourced food when possible. Additionally, if you plan lunches ahead of time, and pack them the night before, you won’t be so rushed and tempted to use pre-packaged foods.

Clothing

As with school supplies, the first thing you should do is see if there are clothes from last year that can be worn this year. Try not to buy a lot of new clothes if you can help it.

When you do go shopping, consider checking out a thrift shop or consignment shop. Find out what day these shops normally put out “new” items. If you know when the most recent stuff is going out, you can get best pick from the best items. The clothes look new, and it can freshen your child’s wardrobe without increased consumption.

Don’t forget to donate your clothes to a thrift shop, or to hand them down to someone who could use them, instead of just throwing them out.

Transportation

Finally, consider ways to reduce your environmental impact in getting to and from school. If it’s a possibility, the best option is to walk or bike to school. However, if that isn’t feasible, take the bus, or carpool to reduce emissions.

With a little thought and planning, it should be possible for you to have a back to school season that is a little more eco-friendly.

Why You Should Consider Adopting Minimalist Principles

In the last few years, there has been a lot of interested in the idea of minimalism. The idea that you can do with less in your life is a powerful one. How many of sometimes wish that our homes and our lives were a little less cluttered?

The good news is that you don’t have to reduce your belongings to 100 of your favorite things, and you don’t have to move into a tiny house to adopt a few minimalist principles. Adding a few minimalist principles to your life can have the following benefits:

Help the Environment

By definition, living a minimalist lifestyle has less of an impact on the environment. If you live in a modest home (one that meets your needs, but isn’t ostentatious), you will use less electricity and water. That means a smaller footprint. Some minimalist principles that involve transportation can be good, since the use of public transit, or riding your bike, also reduces environmental issues.

Plus, the less you buy, the less packaging there is to throw away. There are numerous environmental benefits to minimalism. If you are interested in reducing your footprint, even just changing a few of your habits to be more in line with minimalism can help.

Save Money

Many of us like to know how our habits will affect the bottom line. Since one of the principles of minimalism is to learn to be content with less, it means that you won’t be spending as much money on items that you don’t need or maybe even want. Minimalism isn’t about never buying anything; it’s about consciously choosing to buy items that have value to you. This means carefully thinking through a purchase before making it, and ensuring that it is either truly necessary, or that you truly believe it will enhance your life in a meaningful, long-term way.

Limiting your possessions means that you free up your finances to prepare for the future, or to enjoy experiences. On top of that, many of the things that are good for the environment, such as living in a smaller home or changing the way you use transportation, can also save you money over time. You’ll have a fatter wallet, even as your life is a little more minimalist.

More Time for What You Want

Part of minimalism is avoiding being busy just for the sake of being busy. Take a look at your calendar. Are you over-scheduled? Instead of saying yes to everything that comes along, or feeling as though you need to attend every meeting, or have your kids in several activities, consider cutting back.

Figure out which items are most important to you, and which offer the most fulfillment. Those are the activities you should focus on. Really think about the two or three things you find most fulfilling, and then de-schedule the rest of your life. You’ll have more time to enjoy the things you like best, as well as more time to build relationships with friends and family.

Adding a little minimalism to your life makes sense if you are looking to live a little more fully, and if you hope to create a life that you particularly happy with.