Eco-Friendly Back to School Supplies Guide

Good for you for being interested i learning how to do better for the earth while supplying your kids what they need for their education. We have lot of options now for reusable and/or sustainable school supplies than ever before.

Book Covers

We use stretchy cloth book covers. They have smaller and larger ones available. They stretch easily over my kids textbooks and don’t fall off. They’re washable, reusable, and come in lots of colors and designs. We have several book covers that have been around for several years. I think we’ve had one get a hole in it but they can be easily repurposed into hair ties, hacky-sacks, barbie doll clothes, or whatever you can think of. You can find them in-store at Walmart too really cheap.

Snacks

Our school allows our children to bring in snacks. We can send them in daily, weekly or for the entire month. Reusable snack bags are not only eco-friendly, but also saves money in the long run. I have 4 kids, I can go through a box of sandwich bags or freezer bags in a blink. Even buying the generic brand it adds up.

There are clear reusable snack bags that look more like the normal sandwich bags and freezer bags. Then there are cloth reusable food storage bags that come in fun designs.

Pencils

There are lots of options for more earth friendly pencils. There are plantable pencils, pencils made from recycled newspaper, and if you just have to have a mechanical pencils there are even mechanical pencils made from bamboo.

If you’re a pencil snob and just have to have the Ticonderoga brand #2 pencils well Ticonderoga envirostik is your answer. It’s a natural wood pencil from “responsibly managed” forests. And still the #2 designation.

Erasers

This one seems to be harder to find but not impossible. A company called Onyx and Green make erasers made from recycled rubber.

Glue

It seems Elmer’s used to make a natural glue but I can’t seem to find it available anywhere which makes me wonder if they stopped making it. But that doesn’t mean you have to. I found this great recipe for easy homemade glue. You can reuse an old glue bottle or use another similar reusable squeeze bottle. I’m even wondering if a clean, empty mustard bottle would work? What do you think?

Crayons and Colored Pencils

The elementary kids tend to use the crayons more while the teens seem to use the colored pencils more.

There are several choices for environmentally friendly crayons. There are crayons with reduced packaging as well as crayons made from beeswax.

You can even repurpose broken crayons you have by melting crayon stubs down and creating new chunky crayons. For mine I used a mini muffin tin for the shapes.

Onyx and Green comes through again with earth friendly colored pencils made from recycled newspaper.

Just FYI, for markers, Crayola has a program called Colorcycle for schools where schools can collect unusable markers and send them back to crayola for marker recycling.

This post does contain affiliate links. I will get a small commission from sales made through my links. Any opinions expressed are my own.


Easy and Affordable Eco-Friendly Swaps

I’ve been wanting to do better in regard to making better choices for the earth. I realize there is a lot of changes I need to make. It’s a little overwhelming. One thing I started doing was to keep a stash of reusable shopping bags in my car so I wouldn’t forget them when I’d go shopping. Here are a few more changes I’m making

Choosing Eco-friendly Stores

I’ve been shopping at Aldi more. Even though it’s a bit out of the way they’ve been more eco-friendly for a while and continue to make changes to do better, themselves. Aldi fairly recently announced they would be moving to fully sustainable packaging by the year 2025. There are tons of options for reusable shopping bags out there. I’ve actually got quite a few from local events, swag bags, etc for free.

Making Eco-friendly Swaps

So one issue I kept having was disposable utensils. We have a lot of get-togethers with a lot of people multiple times a year. The idea of washing that many dishes and utensils was daunting but the reality is, I don’t own enough for the amount of people that come to our parties. Initially when looking into biodegradable or sustainable disposable products they were pretty pricey for a minimal amount.

A fate, facebook post helped me to find Avoplast. Avoplast is 100% eco-friendly disposable utensils and straws made from avocado pits! As if there was any more reason to love avocados. How affordable are these? Well as a an example the Avoplast forks come in a 24 pack with free Prime delivery.

It doesn’t appear that Avoplast makes disposable plates or napkins though but there are lots of options for biodegradable plates and biodegradable napkins.

I also found this 114 pc set from Earth’s Naturals that has service for 16 people at a reasonable price.

Everyday Eco-friendly choices

My nieces have some kind of crazy obsession with straws. I keep stainless steel straws handy when they visit. What i like about stainless still straws is, they’re sturdy, they hold up well, and they come in different sizes. They have everything thing from regular size straws to Boba straws. I tried glass straws but they just didn’t hold up in our house. The stainless steel straws definitely do better.

Check out this set of 10 stainless steel straws with silicone tips (a little safer for the kids). It also comes with cleaning brushes. They actually gave me a coupon code to share with you too that is valid until Sept 9, 2019. Use code: METST5FF to get this set for only $5.99 with free shipping! (expires 9/9/19)

Some local convenience stores allow you to buy a branded reusable travel mug and refill coffee for a lower price or even offer so many free refills. Save money and the environment but using reusable water bottles too. There are plenty of different sizes and options from glass, stainless steel, BPA free plastic, and more.

Earth Friendly and Family Friendly Cleaning

There’s lots of reasons to swap out your cleaning products. Not just environmental but for your families health. Fumes and chemicals in some cleaning products can actually cause more harm than good.

There are more eco-friendly options in your grocery store with reduced packaging and free of chemicals but you can also make your own. A simple vinegar and water solution can be great for cleaning windows, counters, and more.

There are also essential oil companies that offer safer cleaning options and essential oil recipes. Simply Earth actually has a subscription service that send you several essential oils each month with natural product recipes. Everything from cleaning products, hygiene products, cosmetics, and more.

You can also choose products that are reusable and let you clean without chemicals using water. E-cloth is an affordable alternative with chemical free options to clean windows, scrub dishes, even remove make up with just water. I’ve used these products myself and they work better than I ever thought. Who knew you can get a good clean with just water?

Are you trying to make earth-friendly changes? I’d love to know what you are doing.


The Best Sites to Find Back To School Clothes Deals

It’s about that time for back to school clothes shopping. With 4 kids, my budget for back to school shopping could easily get out of hand if I wasn’t a deal hunter. I thought I’d share the best places online to find back to school clothes deals with you. Places to find name brand clothes without paying name brand prices.

Athletic Wear Deals

My oldest son lives in athletic shorts while my middle son lives in athletic shorts and athletic pants. They love their Nike, Under Armour, Reebok, ADIDAS, and other brands. These brands can be expensive and it’s sometimes hard to find a real deal but this is stuffed full of bargains.

Proozy offers all the name brands I offered and many more. You’ll also find Northface, Columbia, Puma, Oakley, Birkenstock and lots more. This is my go-to site for athletic wear for my family. Amazing deals. I just got a 4 pack of Reebok boxer briefs for both my older boys for only $12.99 each and free shipping with code PZYSHIP which expires 8/7/19.

New to You

There is nothing wrong with gently used clothes. I buy them often, especially for myself. I’ve bought a few pair of shorts, hoodies, and even shoes from this next site. They have every day deals as low as $3 and often have coupon codes available to save even more! They even have some school uniforms available.

Schoola.com

Schoola is an online consignment store offering clothes for kids, women, men, and more. If you’ve never shopped Schoola before, you can save 50% off your first order with code: FIRST50OFF this code does not have an expiration date.

When Name Brand Doesn’t Matter

There are plenty of clothing companies out there that aren’t name brand but still have good quality clothes. Did you know that Amazon has their own line of clothing called Amazon Essentials. You can find Amazon Essentials for boys and Amazon Essentials for girls. This includes school uniforms!

There’s also Prime Wardrobe which has a special section for back to school. You’ll be sent a box of clothes in the size and gender you choose. Keep only what you like, send the rest back.

Don’t forget that qualifying college/university students can get Amazon Prime Student for 50% off for 6 months!

The Deal Treasure Hunt

There are several sites that offer exciting deals that are every changing. Maybe they have a deal up for Under Armour but it will only last for 3 days, maybe they have a deal up Hush Puppy shoes but it ends tonight. These type of sites are typically referred to as daily deal sites.

One of my fave daily deal sites is Zulily. It’s worth checking out at least a few days a week. Right now they have deals on school uniforms, graphic shirts, back to school workbooks, and more. But the deals won’t last long.

Ebay actually has a Daily Deals section which has become one of my new favorite places to shop. I actually got my youngest son an ADIDAS shirt and hoodie that he loves. Often times they’re deals direct from the manufacturer and offer free shipping. Plus you can use PayPal to check out.

Make Your Own Deals

Cash back sites are competing for your business. While one site might offer more cash back at JC Penney, and other site might offer more cash back at Target. Where you choose to shop there’s a good chance there’s a site offering cash back for you. Stack cash back offers with coupon codes and that can lead to big savings!

Here are my fave cash back sites (they’re all free).

  • TopCashBack – Consistently high cash back lots of choices for payout options
  • Rakuten – formerly Ebates, lists coupon codes with cash back pays every 4 months if you have at least $5 in your account
  • BeFrugal – Deal posts and high cash back rates
  • Giving Assistant – allows you to donate some of your cash back to your favorite charity if you wish.

This post does contain affiliate links. I will get a small commission from sales made through my links at no extra cost to you. Any opinions expressed are my own.


16th Birthday Gift Ideas

16th birthdays are a big deal. For many that means they’re now allowed to get their permit and start driver’s training. But the idea of buying a car for a 16th birthday present isn’t always within reach. Here are a few other great ideas for 16th birthday gifts.

16th birthday gift ideas
  1. Drivers Education classes – This will not only give your child more experience with driving but also give you a nice discount when they finally get their driver’s license. We did this for our oldest son. I wrote about the benefits of drivers education classes here.
  2. AAA membership – another sensible gift that will help with towing, road side assistance, and when they lock their keys in the car. This also gives a little more peace of mind for the parents.
  3. Gas gift cards – with their new driving freedoms comes new expenses. Gas gift cards gets them in the habit of filling the tank when they take the vehicle especially when they’re on a tight budget.
  4. Car Wash gift certificates – if they did happen to get a vehicle for their 16th birthday they’ll want to take care of it. Car wash gift cards will give them a little more motivation to take care of the outside
  5. Car Safety kits -my son actually got a car safety kit for his birthday from his aunt. It contained things like flares, bandaids, road triangles, and more. He said he really appreciated that gift
  6. Car care kits – Armor All makes car care kits to keep your car clean inside and out. My son actually said he’d like to have one because he enjoys cleaning the car. I always did too at that age.
  7. Car oriented gift bags/gift baskets with small items like a key chain, air freshener, driving sunglasses, ice scraper, etc.
  8. Maintenance gift cards – Places like Jiffy Lube or Pep Boys offer gift cards so your new driver can take care of an oil change, windshield wipers, tires, or whatever maintenance they need.

This post does contain some affiliate links. I will get a small commission from sales made through my post.


Back To School Bus Safety Reminder

My kids will be starting back to school towards the end of this month. My heart always breaks at the stories of kids that get hit by cars getting on or off the bus. As a parent I think there are things we can do to help our kids too.

When possible watch your kids until the get on the bus. Especially elementary school age. I do this not just because of the danger of getting hit by a car but also because of the kidnapping stories too. (So much to worry about anymore right?)

Teaching our kids about looking both ways before crossing the street. My kids don’t have to cross the road. They’re picked up at the bottom of our driveway but lot kids do have to cross at least one street to get to their bus stop or get home.

Password. I’ll be honest this isn’t one thing we’ve established yet but I really need to. I’ve heard stories of kids avoiding stranger danger because of using a password. The idea is to use a word they’ll remember and if someone tries to pick them up they ask them for the password. IF they don’t know they password the kid knows not to go with them.

Avoid putting your child’s name on their clothing and backpacks where it’s visible. I label my kids items but I’ll put it inside the backpack, inside their shoes, or on the tag of their shirt.

For driving safety tips for back to school check out my post on reedman toll blog.