Published on August 12th, 2011 | by Karen Lee


10 Ways to Green Back To School and Save Money

It might still feel like summer in some parts of the country but it’s “back-to-school” season. But before you go out and start outfitting your future scholars with everything for a new academic year, think of ways to green their “back-to-school” while keeping your money in your wallet.

Here are ten great ways to green back-to-school and save money.

1. Reuse last year’s supplies before you hit the stores. Go through the inventory of your storage closet and see what they brought home from their lockers at the end of the school year. The chances are, there are items that you can reuse. Locker shelves, pencil cup, magnets, locks, backpacks, and even staplers.

2. If you must buy new supplies, buy items made with recycled materials, including paper, backpacks, and pencils, etc. There are so many choices now for school supplies, there’s no reason not to. Better yet, since teachers are using online resources, you don’t have to buy as many file folders or even papers. So figure out what to buy, after school starts.

3. Swap and exchange with friends. If you have books that you don’t need anymore but a underclassmen might, ask if anyone wants to take the book off your hands. And do the same with upperclassmen; find out if anyone has books that you can use.

4. Use reusable lunch containers and utensils. If you have to pack lunch, use reusable lunch bag with stainless containers and utensils. Why would you want to waste paper bag or a plastic wrap and waste money when you can use reusables?


5. Rent Textbooks – If you have to buy textbooks, consider renting them from sites like Campus Book Rentals They are cheaper, shipping is free and it’s eco-friendly. Or try digital textbooks.

6. If you are college bound, don’t bring a car. Most campuses are pedestrian friendly. Also, you can rent bikes, and mostly likely, school’s mass transit system will be far more efficient than having a car on campus, if it’s allowed at all.

7. Share any big appliances with your roommate. Find out what your roommate is bringing and share big items like a refrigerator, a microwave, a popcorn maker, blow dryer, etc. Chances are, space is limited anyway so why bring energy sucking appliances and take up valuable ‘real estate’ when you can share.

8. Buy your geek a power strip for all electronic gadgets. Train them to turn off the strip when they are done using their laptops, desk lamps. and chargers. You have to teach them when they are young, right?

9. Rent your refrigerator/microwave from a company that a school most likely recommends. There is no reason to buy a college sized refrigerator and then be stuck with storing it over the summer or lugging it back home every year. For the amount you pay for the refrigerator and a storage fee, you can rent it and return it at the end of the year.

10. Plan on carpooling for going to and from school. Whether you are traveling to go back to college or go a mile to high school, plan on carpooling. There is no need to drive when you can share the cost and save energy.

One more tip; ask your (older) child to take a course or two in environmental studies. Even if they are not going to be major in the field, it’s a great way to learn about the environment. After all, it’s going to be their future.

[CC images by dok1 and  wohnal]

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About the Author

Karen lives a simple, frugal, green life and shares her eco tips and news on ecokaren and is a co-founder of Green Sisterhood, a network of community of green women bloggers, making change. When she's not managing Green Sisterhood or blogging on ecokaren, she is a chauffeur to two greenagers, wife to an accidental recycler, master chef to hungry locavores, seamstress, knitter, and dumpster diver, not necessarily in that order.

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