Making a Family Plan for Back-to-School Eco Savings

Tulsa Master Recyclers Association

As the summer sun drives Tulsans out of the city limits and into nearby waters, it’s hard to believe the hot temperatures are actually a signal that the first day of school is right around the proverbial corner. So, enjoy the cool waters wherever you may be as you let me help you contemplate a prepared schoolyear ahead that helps save a little of our environment as well a little time and money.

Keep Using What Works
The first tip I want to pass along is that maybe you don’t need all new things. Have a conversation with your kids about earth-saving measures you can get behind. If last year’s backpack is still in working order, use it, even if your child is no longer enamored with the superhero emblazoned on it. Your child may feel they’ve outgrown it but give them talking points that will make them feel better about it, such as, “It’s not my style, now but this backpack can’t be recycled so I didn’t just want Mom to throw it away. Instead, she bought me these great, new shoes. Aren’t they cool? We gave my old shoes to someone who could use them, too. That makes me feel good about my choices.” (I’m not just making up these scenarios. As someone in a lot of classrooms, I overhear students engaging in deep conversations…as they pick their nose).

This is not just great for creating less waste. It’s also a great opportunity for your child to begin feeling invested in the family’s budget, giving them more sense of responsibility and value, and to see the connection between their needs, their wants and the decisions they make. It might even be a good opportunity to start a savings or checking account with your young one. Sixth grade students in the Union Carrera program each open a bank account with money earned through Job Club. One student said, “At first I wanted to just go to the mall and spend it. But when I thought about how I want to go to college, I went ahead and put it in the bank.”

Clothing Swap
Something else I’ve noticed throughout classrooms is that clothing rarely holds up against the rigors of childhood. However, a few pieces may still be in tact albeit too small for your growing girl or boy. Partner up for a clothing swap. This can be created through organizations you’re involved with such as Boy Scouts, church groups, sports teams or just your own personal circles. In our own family, the younger kids proudly wear beloved shirts once worn by the older cousins they admire.

Upscale Resale
Don’t underestimate a resale shop. For adults, I am an avid shopper at Echo Shop and Echo Man near 61st Street on Harvard Avenue in Tulsa. Right down the road you’ll find The Children’s Closet and C & J School Uniforms for the kids…and that’s just within a few city blocks.

These days with environmental issues being “cool,” a conversation with your children about the positive impact of utilizing resale and clothing swaps can help not just eliminate fears of social rejection, it can actually elevate your child’s inner security and social standing. Go, us!

Save Your Receipts
Inevitably, new clothes must be purchased. But so often, you get it home and find a problem…a hole you didn’t notice or the darn thing unravels with one wash. Many brands and businesses offer warranty and product guarantees, such as replacing shoes falling apart after a short period. Keep up with all your receipts for a no-hassle return that can also help the company find and fix a product issue. I have a large, decorative box near the front door where we shove all our crumpled receipts. If we ever come across an issue with a purchase, our hidden box of chaos is a gem.

Let Go of Lunchtime Woes
I grew up on delicious lunchroom meals. I loved them. I can still remember that Frito pie and strawberry topped cake…mmmm. These days, I’ve seen firsthand some incredibly healthy and delicious public school lunches, and I’ve seen the flipside of that. To help your child find success at every meal, I’d like to share with you my nieces’ scheme: each week, they’d pour over the posting of the next week’s school menu to choose the days they knew they’d want to take their lunch versus the days they knew they wouldn’t want to miss the cafeteria offerings. They’d prepare a list for Mom of what they’d want from the store before heading out. Mom would match their list with the week’s coupons and specials just for added savings. Some trips, the kids would join her to help pull the items into the cart and rarely did Mom have to hear any whining once at the store over impulse purchase requests. Knowing in advance they’d get what they’d already decided they wanted, kids and Mom had pleasant trips together. After witnessing this in action, I have never been more amazed. I realized I’d seen too many sitcoms and commercial advertisements depicting the opposite.

What’s Your Word?
I’d love to hear from you on where you go for the best upscale resale, and what you do to “green-up” the school season. Have you found a solid, reusable lunchbox or water bottle your kids love? Have you discovered the key to using less waste while still accomplishing homework goals? Share it with us TrashTalkTulsa or email for use in a future column. Meanwhile, may your planning create less waste, more money in your pocket and a peaceful start back to school.

Updated 07-25-2017

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