Summer is quickly coming to an end and soon it’ll be time to send the kids back to school. Shopping for a new school year can be a fun process for both parents and kids. Start your school year right and make your back-to-school preparations more sustainable. Here are 5 tips and tricks on how to make the back-to-school process more sustainable.

Second-hand style: Kids outgrow their clothing very quickly, so buying new clothes at department stores every fall wastes money and creates waste. Most second-hand clothing stores have all the trendy styles and accessories kids are looking for. Another fun and sustainable option can be for your kids to organize a clothing swap with family, friends or neighbors. Some communities have “Swap, Don’t Shop” events every fall. If there isn’t an event near you, consider organizing one yourself! 

Take inventory: Take careful inventory of the school supplies you already have that can be used again. Do you have extra packs of pencils, or barely used notebooks and folders? Do you really need a new clipboard? Is last year’s backpack still functional? Reduce your time shopping and avoid last-minute impulse purchases by making a list of what you really need before you go to the store, and stick to it!

Buy used textbooks: Used textbooks are often available for half off or more in campus bookstores. Websites also carry a broad selection of used titles and can be shipped to your door the very next day. Renting or buying used textbooks is an increasingly popular option that helps to reduce the amount of books being created, which can save millions of trees.

Pack a lunch: Schools dispose of thousands of pounds of lunch waste every year. By packing a lunch for your kid in a reusable lunch box with a reusable bottle, you will help reduce the amount of paper bags, food packaging and wasted food your child doesn’t eat. Making a lunch without packaged, processed food doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. Get your kids involved in choosing lunch ingredients, so they’ll be less likely to toss out the stuff they don’t want to eat.

Don’t idle: Idling your vehicle is a major source of smog. Smog is a big issue at schools because many bus drivers and parents sit with their vehicles idling while waiting to pick up their kids. This creates a huge cloud of pollution for them to walk through when they leave. Smog has been found to: aggravate asthma, increase the number of respiratory infections; and induce allergies. If you are going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds, turn off your car or park and meet them as they walk out. 

Preparing for the school season can be a hectic time, but these easy and eco-friendly back to school tips will save you time, money, and best of all, the environment!