Back to school

August 15, 2011 – This is a time when commercialism raises its head and millions of over-worked and under-paid parents hit the stores with lists in hand to prepare their child for back to school. Purchasing school supplies is an exciting time but it is also a circumstance in which valuable resources can be wasted. Having a plan can go a long way to change buying frenzy into satisfactory accomplishment. Most Canadian parents are looking for ways to eliminate waste and benefit the environment.

Reuse supplies:

Many items are reusable from year to year:

  • Scissors; rulers (metal); dictionaries; geometry sets; calculators (solar, scientific); binders (redecorate, recover; add decals); refillable pencils; large plastic pencil case (cotton canvas); large backpack (sturdy, canvas, recycled rubber, hemp). If you are purchasing for the first time, choose supplies that are sturdy and will be reused following years.
  • Sports gear such as skates, cleats, shoulder pads, knee pads, ball gloves, are outgrown by older students and may be purchased or swapped.
  • Clothing from thrift stores or clothing swaps.

Buy Consumables in Bulk:

Supplies that are consumable often come in packages large than the list requests. Buy in bulk, send only the number on the list. Space in lockers and classrooms is limited so storage of extras becomes a problem. Designate a basket or a drawer at home for the extras. This ensures a ready supply if something runs out during the year, and saves supplies for next year. Erasers; pencil refills; glue; correction liquid or tape; paper clips; highlighters; loose leaf (recycled paper, bleached without chlorine), graph paper; boxes of tissue (recycled paper).

Don’t Be Lured to Buy Unnecessary Items:

Schools have hole punchers, staplers, and pencil sharpeners. Buying those types of items just gives your student an additional “thing” to look after.

Don’t Take Your Children Shopping With You:

Use the lists; consult with your student to see if there are other items he/she needs, then shop for the items yourself. Parents are in the position of having their wallets out. Buying is a necessity. Children are affected by bright colors, fads, and peer pressure. When they see the lasted “Hannah Montana” backpack or, and the desire to have that item becomes locked in their minds. How many times have you witnessed a tired, harried parent trying to find the best buy on the necessities, all the while being bombarded by requests for the fad item? If it is a larger purchase such as a backpack that is clearly visible and in some cases, is an extension of your student’s image, shop with the student for that item only, and help them to understand that this is to be a reusable purchase.

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