Our guide to a planet-friendly back-to-school season...
Think green before you start your back-to-school prep in 2020.
With another school year ready to begin, parents around the country are scrolling through book lists, comparing prices and squeezing their kid's feet into last year's school shoes (much to their children's despair); but have we taken a moment to think about the planet and the impact we're making this back-to-school season?
Here is our run down of the best ways to get back-to-school ready while being conscious of protecting our planet too.
School life today is virtually impossible without tech so we're not suggesting removing the laptops, tablets, phones and calculators your kids need to survive and thrive, but it's now more important than ever to power up with green gadgets.
These kinds of devices are created from recycled products, have longer-lasting eco-friendly batteries and come from companies actively committed to reducing their waste, focusing on recycling and improving their carbon footprint.
Reduce the amount of recharging and replacing you need to do by only using tech when necessary in order to extend battery and product life.
Visit JB Hi-Fi to select from Australia's leading range of sustainable tech including Apple, Samsung, HP, Microsoft, Dell and more.
Choose toxic free
When it comes to stocking up ahead of another school year, look for non-toxic, eco-friendly options that do their job whilst also caring for the environment.
Read the labels of pens and pencil cases, art supplies and folders to choose products without plastics and synthetic materials which take thousands of years to breakdown. When buying paper products look for options that are produced without chlorine bleaches and come from sustainable forests. When you're choosing uniforms and back packs, choose canvas or material options to avoid nasty PVC.
Go local, go organic
School lunch boxes are the first building block to healthy, happy minds and bodies - not to mention being a great opportunity to help out the environment.
Cass production, excess packaging and transport not to mention supporting local business and our own economy.
Going organic means you can remove pesticides, hormones and toxins from your diet plus organic ingredients are often packed with extra vitamins and nutrients.
Lastly, pack only what your child will eat to help reduce food waste.
Reuse, or go nude!
Healthy nutritious food is vital for kids to do their best at school, but it can be tricky trying to figure out environmentally friendly ways to package it up for your little ones.
Try sourcing lunch boxes, bags and totes that are PVC free and produced by green companies doing their bit to offset their footprint.
Stock up on reusable beeswax wraps perfect for replacing cling wrap for sandwiches and snacks.
Choose nude foods that don't require any wrapping or containers like fresh fruit.
Rawesome have a great range of eco-friendly snack pockets, lunch bags and beeswax wraps that are sure to last all year long.
Upcycle or recycle
Get your DIY hat on and whip up some new treasures from supplies hiding in the cupboard.
Cover unused notebooks and scrapbooks with 100% recycled wrapping paper, hand-stitch a fun patch onto pencil cases to breathe new life into old favourites and create fun crafty keyrings to style up your kids backpacks and library bags.
Protect them, naturally
Sun safety and responsible hygiene are super important when kids reach school age, but it's time to ditch the toxic hand sanitisers and chemical-loaded sunscreens and take a more natural route to protecting your little ones.
Source non-toxic, natural hand sanitisers like the DR. BRONNER'S Lavender Organic Hand Sanitiser from Priceline Pharmacy and swap last season's sunscreen for eco-friendly options like MooGoo Natural Sunscreenthat are naturally toxin and synthetic free available from TerryWhite Chemmart.
Green-ify the school commute
To help reduce air pollution — a major contributor to childhood asthma — walk, ride or scoot to school with your kids or team up with other parents and arrange a "walkpool" so parents can rotate the responsibility. You'll save petrol and reduce pollution, plus you’ll get some exercise and maybe make a few friends!
If you need some new kicks for the kids then head into Shoes & Sox or rebel to pick up a back-to-school bargain, or if your littlies scooter or bike needs an upgrade then head to Kidstuff to pick up a new set of wheels.
Make a list, and check it twice
Take a page out of Santa's book and make a list of everything your family needs for the new school year, then check over it. Ask yourself whether you really need a whole new range of school merch or whether you might be able to reuse, recycle, upcycle or repurpose some items then do your research to choose eco-friendly, non-toxic options.
Next up, do your research. Explore the environmental and sustainability policies of a range of stores that stock what you need before you step inside. For example, Kmart's "Better Together" plan aims to reduce energy use, cut waste and improve employment equality, diversity and conditions.
Explain to your kids why you're going greener
The first step to greener living in 2020 is to make greener choices when prepping for the school year, but the next step is talking to your kids about why you're making these choices.
Taking a moment to explain how the sparkly glitter backpack is actually made with toxic nasties that don't degrade or how a packet of processed lunch treats pollutes the planet and endangers wildlife can go a long way to calming an upset child, not to mention creating more mindful, planet-loving humans in the future.
For more ideas on how to create a greener back-to-school experience visit Greenpeace Australia or the Small Footprint Family.