School SuppliesUnless your pantry closely resembles the Back to School department at your local Walmart, buying new school supplies each year is something every parent can count on. Not only does it cost money, but supplying students with paper and other school-related items can put a damper on the environment and the world’s resources.

Teaching kids the responsibility they have to care for the world can start with something as small as what kind of school supplies they use. If they learn eco-friendly habits — including recycling, upcycling and resourcefulness — at a young age, children are more likely to grow up feeling thankful for what they have and feeling responsible for what they do. This helps them develop good character.

Before buying school supplies, consider these six eco-friendly options.

1. Eco-Friendly Paper Supplies

Perhaps the easiest eco-friendly supplies to purchase are paper supplies. Many companies offer paper made from post-consumer waste. Colored paper, notebooks and sticky notes are simple to find and will not add to our landfills. When purchasing paper, help your child look for the recycle symbol on notebooks and packages of paper. Explain to them what it means and why it’s important.

But don’t stop there. Between homework and school assignments, a lot of paper is being used. Once your student is finished with their paper, help them recycle as much as they can. If the city you live in doesn’t collect recyclables, you can find recycling waste centers. According to All Green Things, paper-making fibers can be recycled five to seven times before becoming too short to be recycled again. The more your child understands the more he or she is likely to feel responsibility for our earth.

2. Lunch Time Supplies

Packing a lunch is a great way to eat healthier and save money. Carrying a lunch can mean excess waste, though. To avoid that, pack lunches in washable, reusable containers. Stainless steel thermos bottles keep drinks cool, lunch pails eliminate the waste of paper bags and plastic food containers keep food fresher than traditional sandwich baggies. Remind your child why he or she is packing a lunch and bringing home plastic containers instead of throwing baggies away. Recognizing how he or she is helping avoid waste can make the task more meaningful and help him or her to establish responsible habits.

3. Art Supplies for Grade School

Kids get messy in art classes thanks to paint and clay, but instead of using a traditional plastic cover up to keep clean, help them consider using more eco-friendly options. Some companies specialize in making aprons and coveralls by recycling waste products. These washable options are sturdy and available in all sizes and colors.

For paint supplies, consider brushes and paints that are made from all natural ingredients. These environmentally safe items have the additional bonus of being non-toxic. Biodegradable crayons such as those made from plant pigments and other safe ingredients are available in vibrant colors and various shapes as well.

4. Writing Tools

Purchase pencils that are made from recycled newspaper. These pencils are fun for kids because the newsprint shows through when sharpened. These ecological friendly writing tools help protect the environment while doing their job.

5. Book Covers

Instead of spending money purchasing glittery, high-tech book covers, get back to basics. This can be done by recycling old newspapers or brown paper groceries bags. Homemade book covers are easy to replace and can be customized for your student’s preferences. Kids will learn to be resourceful and creative while doing so.

6. Book Bags and Carriers

Instead of spending a lot of money on book bags and carriers that have to be replaced annually, consider eco-friendly options. Your child will notice that you pay attention to quality and expect them to care for their belongings. Bags made of hemp and other eco-friendly backpacks and book carriers are sturdy and often last far longer than their vinyl or plastic counterparts.

By purchasing eco-friendly school supplies you can set an example for your children. Helping them realize how they can contribute to saving the earth will teach them lasting habits that will continue into their adulthood. In addition to these ideas, there are plenty more options including hand sanitizers, clothing and even pens and calculators that are environmentally friendly. Spend some time searching for eco-friendly school supplies and you may find you are saving money while helping your child build character.