3 ways to rethink back to school supplies


Getting kids ready to go back to school may include more stuff, more hassle and more stress. But there are things you can do that will help save time, money and resources. Check out Portland resources first to get what you need to go back to school.

Does everything have to be new? Can creativity and reuse have a place at this time of year? The stuff we need for school accounts for a large amount of money spent on items we may already have on hand. In fact, the average family with school-age kids are expected to spend a total of $635. (Source: NPR)

You can get the kids involved with back-to-school readiness by making a game of finding things they already have in the house for the school year ahead. Establishing a routine is important this time of year so get them involved in maintaining new (or reused) items by making an effort to put school supplies in a safe place every day. Perhaps the one who finds the most usable things can win a special prize or shared experience at a local scoop shop!

Here are some ways to rethink how to get the supplies your kids need.

  1. Plan ahead. When you have a plan it's easier to take action.
    Before the new school year begins, sort through your old materials and reuse what you can from last year's supplies. Make a list before you shop for school supplies because it will help you remember what you wanted to purchase and limit impulse buying.
  2. Consider quality over quantity.
    Buy products with more recycled content – paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer materials, for example – and less or no packaging. If the product comes with packaging, ensure the wrapping or container includes recycled content and can be recycled.
  3. Buy local. Reused school and craft supplies are available in Portland.
    Visit SCRAP to help create DIY one-of-a-kind items for school, like pencil bags from fabric, zippers and found objects, or to customize last year’s backpacks by adding sew-on patches or letters. SCRAP offers paper of all colors and sizes, markers, pens, colored pencils, plus so much more.

For books and computers, consider used or refurbished ones. Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Share your used books with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren. Multnomah County Library is an excellent resource for research projects and homework help. The library’s Title Wave Used Book Store offers a wide selection of books and other materials at deep discounts. Free Geek is a great place to donate old computers and buy replacements, plus find other electronic equipment.