Saturday, 8 September 2012

Natural School/Art Supplies

We are blessed to live in a community where local produce is abundant, many people are upcycling and recycling, and many of our neighbours are embracing a more sustainable lifestyle. Once kids come along it becomes harder to live a sustainable life style... but it doesn’t have to be. This series of articles is an opportunity for me to present topics from a “green” and natural perspective (without being preachy).

This is simply what happens when we strip back the labels, the expectations, and take away the commercialism to ponder parenting, sustainably. 

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” --- Daniel J. Boorstin

Heading back to school was always such an incredible time for me. Not only did I get to see my friends again after a long summer, but all the kids also got new clothes and school supplies. Or, in my case, new to me school supplies. I was always the kid who wanted the bright funky binders and multicolored pens and markers. I never got them. I was given short pencils found around the house. You know the ones that have half the erasers chewed off the ends? Those would be the ones. And having siblings much older than me, I was loaded up with the binders my brothers used before me. I seem to recall their main use was for hiding hockey cards and letters from girls from my step mom.

I didn’t understand my parents’ need to recycle school supplies until I was much older. It wasn’t just about saving money, but also about reducing waste. And now that I’m a mother, I realize that I’m learning things I didn’t realize I needed to learn. Like how many pencils are produced each year, how much paper that’s collected actually gets recycled back into paper products. I’m not going to spout off a list of stats for you, check out Canadian Industry Statistics if you’re interested.

I’m simply saying that there is a huge responsibility, as a parent, to maintain or reduce our carbon footprints, despite the fact that we are now a couple, plus one or two. Or in the case of you crazy ambitious parents out there, 3, 4 or 5. But it’s not always possible to do the second hand thing. So while you can shop at vintage shops and consignment stores for fall outfits, you can’t always get everything we need for back to school second hand. 

We’re lucky to live in a city that has a few different stores that you can purchase environmentally friendly school supplies. And they are out there. When you take into account that you’re buying new items every year, why not just spend a little more for quality eco friendly items, which will last you longer? And then, once your child is done with them, leave a little less in our landfills. Like this awesome "Go Green Lunch Box" from Go Green Baby.

I’m lucky my daughter is only one and I don’t have to worry about school supplies just yet. But I do have to consciously make a choice about the materials I’m using for her early education. Things like finger paints, crayons, play dough, sketch pads and books. And if you ask around town you’ll find there are people right here in the Limestone City who make some of these items! I’m finding all kinds of DIY projects that are sustainable and might just be more fun than the pre packaged options. Colour me happy!

The Clementine Crayon Rocks are one of my favorite finds, you can grab them at The Rocking Horse. And the Botanical Paints from P'Lovers are really beautiful too. Especially when you think about how much paint your child is going to eat. (These and other brands of natural crayons, paints and pencil crayons are available at Go Green Baby too)

These are a few of my favorite finds around town, and I know there are other stores that carry great eco-friendly products so feel free to share what you've found! There are so many other amazing products. I’m hearing a lot of my friends, with school aged children, getting especially excited about the pencil crayons made from recycled newspapers, the eco friendly binders and the pencils made from used CD cases. What's the greatest product you've discovered?

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