Summer went by fast. It’s back to school already and while some have transitioned to homeschooling, and some classes are resuming virtually, that’s not the reality for everybody. For those sending kids back to the classroom, how are you preparing for back to school?
Here are some quick sustainability tips on how to prep for back to school virtually or in real life.
Sustainable kids’ clothes
Did you know? Of the many ways the fashion industry is harming the planet, the indigo dye that is used to make most jeans is slowing down the decomposing process of the cotton fibers. In fact, these fibers are now being found in the Arctic Ocean.
And let’s not forget about microplastics. Polyester, nylon, acrylic, polyamide -- those are 4 of the major fibers used in clothing and they’re all made of plastic. When we wash our clothing, plastic microfibers end up in the wash water and ultimately into our waterways. These microplastics end up in fish which we then eat. Not the kind of full circle experience we want to have with our planet.
Opt for natural fabrics like cotton or bamboo (super soft!) and natural dying processes when you can. When there are synthetic fibers in your kids’ clothing, grab a Guppyfriend Washing Bag or two which will catch the plastic microfibers in the wash so you can dispose of them properly.
If you need some new threads for your growing humans, the most sustainable option is to shop at secondhand shops because those clothes already exist. ThredUP and Kidizen are great online options and they make it easy with size and color filters to narrow down to things that your kid will like. ThredUP can be a toss up on quality, but Kidizen seems to have higher quality overall.
Beyond your own kids and their cousins, consider finding or developing a neighborhood hand-me-down network -- if a Nextdoor network exists in your city, you can post there to find other interested parents. Local Buy Nothing groups on Facebook are also great resources for giving and finding anything from kids clothes to kitchen appliances.
For brand new sustainable kids’ clothes, here’s a guide on the best eco-friendly clothing brands for kids that’s worth checking out.
Stock up on supplies
Pencils, crayons, markers, highlighters… check on last year’s supplies before buying anything new -- if you’re like us, you already have plenty of these things left over if you just do a junk drawer clean out 😅 For anything you need to replace, check out EarthHero’s collection of sustainable back-to-school supplies.
Make sustainable lunches
This is a great place to save on single-use plastic! If you’re sending your kids to school with sandwiches and snacks in ziploc bags, you can see how quickly that trash piles up. Opt for beeswax sandwich bags, snack bags, and wraps as a replacement for ziploc bags and plastic-wrap. Instead of disposable utensils, invest in a reusable bamboo cutlery set that can be used for the whole school year.
Stainless steel tupperware can replace the plastic and you can rest assured it won’t break on the playground like glass tupperware and opt for stainless steel bottles instead of juice boxes and plastic water bottles.
While kids have been less likely to show symptoms of COVID-19, they can still contract it and act as spreaders. In the classrooms and on the playground, a face mask is our best line of defense. Consider sending your child to school with an extra in case their first one falls off and lands in the mud during a particularly playful recess or, let’s be real, if they sneeze snot right into it.
The organic cotton precision face masks are specially developed for kids and adults alike -- the adjustable earpiece will ensure a snug fit even on smaller humans.
For more best practices, this kids and face masks back-to-school guide is worth a read.