Back To School- The Earth Friendly Saga Continues

Third in our series on going back to school, Earth Friendly style. Today we focus on clothing and other essentials such as coats and book bags.

For back to School clothes… use common sense. I go through the kids closets and buy only what they actually need. I remember the days of growing up and having an entire new wardrobe each year. Granted, my clothing came from K-Mart and consisted of the most inexpensive items one could purchase new. We purchase quality clothing for our children, because it is our belief that this will show us a greater return on our money. K-Man’s school needs consisted of new jeans and a couple of shirts. He blew holes in almost all his pants last year and those he didn’t destroy, he outgrew. Being excellent bargain shoppers (on the rare occasion) we were able to get him two pair of size 8 Levi’s at a yard sale for .50 a pair! For his new jeans, we spent $26.50 each for two pair that we know will last the school year. I know we could have bought new jeans for $15 a pair, but they would have been in need of replacement in a couple months, so that isn’t a good deal. In our house, we decided to focus on QUALITY vs. quantity. It just makes more sense.

We handle backpacks, lunch boxes, coats, etc… by getting LOTS of use out of them. Our new Laptop Lunch Kits should get the crew through grade school (at minimum!). K-Man is on his second year with his current backpack, K2 is going on her third year and its still looks new. She is begging for a new bag this year. Evidently the new thing is to have a messenger style bag versus a backpack. I have said “NO”. I tried to explain to her that the bag she has is in excellent condition and I asked her what we would do with the backpack if we bought a new one. She had all kinds of ideas, give it to K3 (who has her own backpack starting its second year) and then to Little Critter, who I pointed out isn’t in school and has no need for a backpack. I then went on to explain all the resources that go into creating something new and that was wasteful when we don’t actually need the item. She still hasn’t bought into this… but I think eventually she will get it. If we had a great use for her backpack or it was worn out, I would buy the bag she wants. However, I believe she can get another year out of this bag before we buy new.

Shopping for a backpack/messenger pack?

The Bhoga Hemp Messenger Bag is sure to give you many years of use.

The Hemp School Backpack is Natural-Chic.

Ergo Baby Denim Backpack is technically a diaper bag… but who cares?

Organic Hemp Courier Bag
… comes in several rich colors.

My all time favorite- The Big Kid Eco Pack. Comes in your choice of pink heart, green recycle symbol or orange peace sign. Made of recycled plastic! From Dante Beatrix, it’ll run about $50. Wishing and hoping they will make a messenger style recycled bag by the time K2 gets a new one next school year!

Another Earth Friendly (and budget friendly) thing we do is to buy winter coats BIG. K-Man and K2 are going on year three with their coats. This is awesome because they get to use them until they wear them out. It also saves us the cost of buying new coats for all four kids every year. K3 and Little Critter will need new coats as they have outgrown theirs, however last years will get donated to children in need.

The clothes that K2 outgrows hand down to K3 (unless they can not be salvaged) and K3’s go down to Little Critter. However, we only have one son, so what how do we get more life out of his clothing? There are the obvious options- give them to someone else, sell them on eBay or Craigslist or donate them to Goodwill. Another, less obvious option is to repurpose them. Those holey jeans can become skirts, purses, quilt squares, pillows or shorts. I have a stack just waiting for a new life. Hopefully I will get around to it, soonish. 🙂

To break it down…

Shop smart.

Shop LESS often. (Quality over quantity.)

Buy Recycled/Repurposed when possible.

Make it last!


About PolkaDotMommy

Wife to a teacher extraordinaire... Mama to Five littles... Conservative Catholic Christian with a Strong Environmentalist Mentality... Respecting Life... Living for our Savior... Learning to trust God in all things.
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4 Responses to Back To School- The Earth Friendly Saga Continues

  1. Tenille says:

    We just went through this. E wanted a new backpack (with wheels – eyeroll). She used my old OLD college backpack last year, and there was nothing wrong with that one. Well, we caved, deciding it wasn’t so bad for her to have a new backpack. But… yeah, you’re right!

  2. When I was his age, I could put a hole in ANYTHING in less than six weeks. I seem to remember a “Roughskins” brans that she tried. They were triple reinforced at the knees. It was so thick that I could barely bend my knees!

  3. MTAE- Oh, I remember those jeans. I tried to buy some reinforced knees for K-Man and Oregon Dad was all … NO WAY. They were too ugly for his taste. So we spend a bit more on jeans, but since we bought only 2 pair new and 2 used, we got 4 pair for $56. So that’s not too bad! I have a few nice pair left to sell, which may generate a return of $10-15.

    Tenille- I’d say if she was already using a recycled bag (so to speak) then there probably isn’t harm in getting her own! And you are so budget wise I have a feeling she will get many years of use out of it.

  4. Tiffany says:

    Awesome backpack recommendations. I think I am going with a knitted wool backpack for my dd this year.

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