What’s the newest green trend this back-to-school buying season? Think before you buy.
It’s not that difficult these days to coordinate the three R’s of being planet friendly - reduce, reuse and recycle - with reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic. Greening the back-to-school experience means thinking about what you really need to get your kids back into the classroom.
Before you head out, take an inventory of items you already have. Can you get another year out of that backpack? Do you really need another pair of child-safe scissors?
Then it’s decision time. Sometimes you’ll have to pay a little more up front to save a few bucks – as well as the planet – down the road. A stainless steel water bottle may set you back $15, for example, but then spares you the price of disposable plastic water bottles.
We consulted two green retailers to find out their eco-friendly back-to-school faves: Daniel Kron, a father of two who owns Genius Jones, a design store for kids with locations in Miami and Boca Raton, and Mylene D’Arelli, aka greenmom, a mother of two and owner of Green Dwellers, an online store and green boutique open by appointment in Plantation.
- Try thrift stores, consignment shops and garage sales: There’s nothing greener than buying used, so hunt for gently-worn uniform staples and save a bundle.
- Park your car: Let your child take the bus, bicycle or walk if you live close enough to school and this is a safe option. It’s a greener choice than sitting for 20 minutes with the motor running in the car line.
“We throw away so much stuff when we pack lunches – the little plastic baggies to wrap sandwiches and snacks in, the plastic utensils, the water bottles,” said D’Arelli, mom of a 5- and 8-year-old. “I try to get stuff that is reusable, but you want to get stuff that’s nontoxic, too.”
• Lunch totes: Remember your metal Partridge Family lunch box from the ‘70s? Well, metal is hot again. Check out compartmentalized metal boxes at PlanetBox.com, or eco-friendly lunch kits with reusable containers at LunchSense.com or kidskonserve.com. Green Dwellers carries neoprene insulated Gourmet Getaway lunch totes as well as Munchlers lunch boxes, BPA-free plastic totes in cute animal motifs that unzip to become a placemat. At Genius Jones, Kron said he is anxiously awaiting a new product called Goodbyn, a lunch bin with six compartments and containers that are free of BPA and Phthalates.
* Reusable utensils: D’Arelli was sending her silverware to school with lunch until she discovered RePEat Bamboo utensil sets. It’s made of a highly-renewable resource and is durable, to boot.Tote bags:
* Recycled pencils: D’Arelli recommends Smencils, scented pencils made from recycled newspapers. Check out Paper Mate's Earthwrite recycled pencils or look for biodegradable or refillable pens.Recycled paper products: Reusable water bottles: Art supplies: