Back to school the eco friendly way
We haven’t even begun the school summer holidays and Little Miss Green is already giving me a list of things she needs for next term including clothes, shoes and desk supplies!
Fortunately there are lots of options for sending your children to school the eco friendly way including the tantalisingly named ‘Naked Binder’.
Organic or fairtrade
Modern school uniforms are made with busy parents in mind. Most are made from teflon coated polyester designed to wash and wear well. It comes out of the washing machine virtually dry, hardly requires ironing and is stain resistant. What’s not to love!?
Unfortunately, polyester is a man made product created from oil. Polyester doesn’t biodegrade or let the skin breathe and Perfluorinated compounds contained in Teflon are classified as cancer causing by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Even cotton isn’t perfect. Although it’s natural, breathable and can be easily recycled, cotton is a heavily sprayed crop; accounting for around 25% of world pesticide usage.
With supermarkets offering an entire uniform for a knock down price, is it any wonder many of these garments are made in sweatshops where workers are paid as little as 5p an hour for an 80 hour week?
The solution is to look for fair trade, organic school uniform. It’s important for our kids to ‘be one of the crowd’, and you can rest assured that organic, fairtrade clothes doesn’t look any different from their friend’s clothing. Alternatively buy second hand clothing as reducing and reusing are great ways to support the planet.
Cheap, disposable stationary contributes to huge environmental problems. Fortunately there are many stylish, practical and fun alternatives. You can buy FSC certified pens and pencils and a huge range of recycled notebooks, paper and rulers.
Little Miss Green is passionate about stationery – she has drawers and boxes full of it which she collects and swaps with friends; she can tell me the history of every piece! But you know what? I wonder if it’s a girl thing, because I still drool over nice stationery too.
Right now I’m loving the Naked Binder brand. Naked Binder sell binders made from 100% recycled, 100% recyclable and 100% post consumer waste! Non toxic, acid free and free of phthalate (which has been banned in children’s toys and childcare centers across the US) these binders come in a variety of styles and colours which have stood up to laboratory testing for flexibility and they are getting rave reviews for their longevity across the internet. One of my personal bug bears is items which are designed to provide a ‘quick fix’ and break in a few days…
Naked Binders raw materials are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified ensuring that the forest products used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources.
The company are members of 1% for the Planet. On top of environmental giving, they support local schools through donations and offer across the board discounts for educators; so you really get a sense of ‘closing the loop’ when you purchase their products. They even show you how to prepare binders for recycling!
Shoes and bags
One thing I always spend money on is decent shoes. Our feet take our body weight all day long so it’s essential shoes fit and are comfortable. For children good shoes are crucial because their bones and muscles are still developing. The challenge is that it is tempting to buy cheap footwear because children grow so quickly!
Remember that shoes can be mended and re-soled. It almost seems such an old fashioned idea now, but to repair things comes way up the list from recycling them!
If you’re concerned about animal cruelty, source cruelty-free shoes and trainers such as vegan brands which are stylish and durable.
Most school bags are designed around a look and the current trendy character and pay little attention to the durability of the product. They are made from non renewable, non recyclable materials and most come from sweatshops where the Western demand for cheap products pushes the prices down.
You can buy bags made from all sorts of recycled materials such as old juice cartons or coffee pouches. Many recycled products are fairtrade too, helping support people in poorer countries achieve a better standard of living.
According to Bupa, one in four UK children are overweight. If your child’s school does not provide a healthy, nutritious meal, then you’ll need to send them to school with a packed lunch.
Be sure to choose a BPA free drinking bottle. Buy a stainless steel bottle that is long lasting and won’t leach any nasties into your child’s drink.
You can find fairly traded, recycled lunchboxes and pack it with healthy food:
Instead of crisps
Pack breadsticks, mini rice cakes or almonds instead of crisps.
Instead of white bread
Try wholemeal pitta bread, oatcakes or home made pizza.
Ditch the sandwiches
You could forgo sandwiches altogether and make quinoa or couscous salad, crudites or quiche.
For healthy deserts try fromage frais with honey, flapjacks, stewed fruit or dried fruit bars.
For ethical lunches, choose local, seasonal, organic and fair trade products where possible. Buy loose fruit and vegetables and look for recyclable packaging. The average householder throws away nearly a third of the food they buy, so don’t give your child too much to eat and make sure they like what you feed them!
What are your tips for sending your child to school the ‘green’ way?