Sustainable Living Series - Back to School

Well, it's that time of year again, when parents and caregivers across the country are busy gathering school supplies and before you know it, it will be the first day of the school year. Whether your child/ren are heading off to school for the very first time or taking a step further along the educational path there is often a rush to get everything ready for school as soon as the school lists have come out.  
Often this means heading to the biggest or closest, or perhaps both, retailer to grab brand new items, and heading home with a job technically done. While effective in some ways this process rarely provides a value for money experience and almost certainly isn't ethically minded. 
The good news is with a little preparation and thought is possible for you to do some good while saving money. 
Before you start...

PLAN! Think what is actually required compared to what is perceived to be needed. By taking stock you can ensure that what you set out to get is exactly what your child/ren need and that reduces the chance of impulse shopping. 
RESEARCH! Research your options before running out to your local supermarket and grabbing the first thing you see. By taking the time to find eco friendly school supplies you will be doing not only the environment a favour but also your hip pocket. 
COMMIT! To being a leader and thinking outside the box. Often we are so busy it can seem difficult to action the change we wish to, it's important to see this as a simple step in a bigger journey. Do what you can with what you have right now. Maybe this year it will be a simple as buying a re-useable drink bottle, next year a lunchbox. The important thing is to not get overwhelmed and make small changes where and when possible. 
Green tips to getting back to school sustainably: 
- When buying school items try to buy from local business and producers  
- Consider buying second hand uniforms, children grow so fast that often uniforms are gently worn with plenty of wear left.  
- Buy an eco lunch box such as a stainless steel lunch box and bottles which are lightweight, re-useable and eco friendly options. While these can often cost more than their counterparts, in the long term they are often more durable lasting longer and therefore more cost effective overall.  
- Find pre-loved textbooks or make some extra $$ and sell yours.  
- Make lunches healthy and fresh by using local produce. Batch bake when it suits you, freeze and be happy that you can send healthy home-made snacks with your child/ren.  
Not sure where to start or don't have a lot time? Consider joining co-op ventures like Mamabake to help you find like-minded parents.  
Loathe cooking or extremely time poor? Consider using your local Buy/Sell/Swap or community notice board to find a friendly local with time on their hands that would like to earn some extra money. You can work out your budget based on what you would normally spend on packaged snacks and redirect it towards healthier, more personalised options, potentially saving yourself time and money. You might even gain a new friend! 
- Where possible buy in bulk. Considering creating or joining a school supplies co-op with other parents and caregivers in your area.  
- Minimise packaging as it is a high energy user. On a larger scale it is worth noting that up to 1 tonne of carbon is saved if garbage is reduced by 1 wheelie bin per month. 
- Buy FSC paper products which are an ethical choice, promoting the responsible management of forests worldwide while being social beneficial to workers. 
- Buy online from ethical businesses that are creating change in consumer shopping habits. These a a few of the ways you can make going back to school more sustainable and cost effective! Lastly, as a different back to school/ first day of school tradition what about buying a fruit tree that can grow with your child?!
Some resources: 
Sustainable School Shop - Where you can sell your uniforms, text books, musical instruments, sporting goods and much more. 
Sendle - Needing to send something? Sendle are the first fully certified carbon neutral delivery service in Australia.
We Live it & Biome - Trusted ethical online retailers for home and school. 
BuyEcoGreen is an online shop specialising in green office supplies, school supplies and craft products. 

Mamabake is a community movement bringing parents together regularly in their local neighbourhoods to cook big batch meals together.  

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