Eek! It’s almost back to school time already…
Sorry for the reminder! Are you one of those parents who counts down the seconds until back to school or do you love having the kids at home?
I for one love to have the kids home! Don’t get me wrong, I do sometimes crave the peaceful few school-day hours that I have to think a little more clearly, but for the most part, I love the relaxed pace that school holidays bring and hearing the kids giggle, laugh and stomp around the house (most of the time anyway!).
On a more serious note though, do you ever stop to think about how society encourages us to waste so much simply around going ‘back to school’? It seems like there is this incredible urge to re-buy everything new again… I can’t tell you how many bucket-loads of pencils, pens, rulers etc we accumulated with three kids at school over the years.
One day, I decided that enough was enough! I had a chat to the kids about it and now, we simply purchase what we need if/when we need it and guess what? It hasn’t made a hoot of difference to the kid’s wellbeing at school, but it has made a massive difference to our budget and our planet!
Here are my top five tips for saving your bank balance and the planet for back to school:
- Go through the back-to-school list with the kids and ask them what they already have… Let’s lay it out on the table – Ask a few questions: is it still good? Does it work, does it serve its desired purpose? Yes? Keep it and cross it off the list! (How many sharpeners do we really need?!!)
- Opt for great quality over quantity. Ultimately it all ends up in landfill… times millions of households each year. For example, we made the switch to high-quality Stainless-Steel lunchboxes and we will never buy or throw another plastic lunchbox in the bin again! They last for ages with proper care and they are much more practical on many levels – win win… this is the one we have: Seed & Sprout - Crunch box and I could spend the entire day ranting and raving about how much we love them! Same with the drink bottles – go for a solid, double-walled Stainless-Steel bottle and it will last so much longer, keep the drinks cooler for longer and it won’t leech nasty phthalates or other chemicals into their drinks. Also, opt for at least 750ml… water is essential to so many functions!
- Shoes… Do they really need new shoes now? Just because it is the start of the year, doesn’t mean that they need new shoes! Shoes should be replaced when they have outgrown them (or put a hole in them…) and not just at the start of the year! It’s amazing what a coat of shoe polish and a buff with a pair of old tights can do to bring more life back into the old shoes again! If they really do need replacing and are still in fairly good nick, do you have younger kids who may get more use from them? If yes, pop a new pair of innersoles in them and off they go! If not, and if they still have plenty of wear in them, think about donating them!
- Choose simple and get creative! School exercise books generally need to be covered most of the time – get the kids to make their own book covers… choose their favourite characters and Google ‘colouring pages’ with the character name – then print off their faves and get them to colour them in – not only is this great to fill in some school holiday time, it also makes the books look really cool and personalised too!
- Stop buying mini packs of everything! First up – generally foods that come in mini packs aren’t great for their health. Secondly, they are shocking for the environment. Thirdly, when you think of value for money, they are way down the bottom of the pack, often containing ridiculously small amounts in far too much packaging! opt for fresh fruit (my kids are picky, so I wash/peel/chop the fruit for them to ensure that they eat it… and guess what?! They do!!!). Buy yoghurts in large tubs (or make your own if you’re amazing!) – pop a few spoonfuls in spill-proof containers and give them a spoon. Bake some cookies or muffins on the weekend and add one for a sweet treat. Make cool sandwiches and mix it up a bit with different breads, rolls, wraps etc or get creative with leftovers! Pop in a piece of their favourite cheese and a date or some grapes and before you know it, they’ll come home with an empty lunchbox and a balanced diet! As a bonus, I sometimes throw in a gold coin so that they can pop up to the canteen for an ice-cream in Summer or a hot chocolate in Winter and add the odd little note to brighten their day – especially on the first day back to school or for big days such as exams or trials – It just helps them know that someone is thinking of them!
So there you have it… in our over-complicated, expensive and fast-paced lives… less is definitely more! Save the money for something fun and feel good knowing that you are making a difference to the world which we will one day hand to younger generations! Remember… every little bit makes a difference!
Good luck with back to school!