Back to school shopping can be cheaper (and greener) than you think

The new school year is just around the corner and that means two things for parents: your child will advance their education by one year and that back to school shopping will put a dent in your wallet.

But what parents don’t know is that this time of year doesn’t have to be a financial burden. In fact, it can be a time to save money while having an eco-friendly mentality at the same time.

The truth about back to school spending

Back to school shopping these days is surprisingly expensive. In fact, the school shopping season is second only to the winter holidays in total spending.

According to a National Retail Federation survey, back to school shopping has become a $74.9 billion industry (kindergarten through college) with families of children K-12 expected to spend an average of $669.28 in apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics this year.

About 75 percent of families are expected to pay as much or more than last year, even though four out of five families say the tough economy will affect their spending.

That’s an absurd amount of money you shouldn’t have to worry about paying. Fortunately, there are ways to keep those costs down while staying green as an added bonus.ID-100176732

Take advantage of old supplies

Before heading to the store, take a look at the school supplies you purchased last school year. Items like binders, half-used notebooks, and older pens and pencils can still be used and can cut your school supply needs in half.

It’s also recommended that you encourage your kids to use both sides of paper in notebooks and binders to get the most use out of these products. Why pay full price to only use half of the notebook?

Clothes are another commodity that can cost parents lots of money for their children’s next school year. But if your children still have clothes that fit them, there’s no need to spend more.

By using older supplies, you can save money and gas you’d lose heading to your local stores and prevent half-used materials from entering a landfill.

Making the smart purchase

If you need to buy more supplies, buy smart. Make a list of items that are essential and stick to it. Avoid impulse buying things you don’t need for your child. That money could easily go to family dinners or activities instead of new binders and folders.

Also consider buying fewer supplies than recommended by schools. There are times your child might bring six folders for the year to only end up using two. You can always buy any additional materials when needed.

You should also look for recycled content in products you need to buy. Ideally, postconsumer content is the best, though any recycled content will do. Buying recycled materials guarantee reused materials are used.

Plan ahead

One of the best things you can do this year is make sure your children take care of their school supplies so they can be reused for next school year. Anything you can save for next year is money you save next year.

A new school year doesn’t always have to mean spending lots of money or wasting useful items for newer ones. You can easily be environmentally friendly while spending little to no money on school supplies. All it takes is a little extra effort and using reusable items next year.

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