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Eco-friendly back to school budget beaters

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Posted by Rebeccah Elley

While your kids head back to school after a summer of fun, are you starting to feel the pinch with your Christmas credit card bills just arriving and a complete list of shiny school supplies to buy?

You’re not alone, as research by Heritage Bank shows 60% of primary school parents admitted to feeling stressed in the lead up to the school year due to the costs associated with back to school items.

But don’t let the back to school bill blues get you down, instead follow these last minute budget beaters that also help the environment.

1. Encourage hand-me-downs

Kids often love something brand new but the fact is your budget won’t. So if your older daughter has simply grown out of a perfectly good school uniform that her little sister will fit, there’s no reason to fork out big bucks for a new version - this goes for other back to school items like backpacks, hats and shoes. You’ll also help the environment by being sustainable and reusing!

2. Visit the school second hand shop

Of course, if your hand-me downs aren’t in a great condition, you can always visit your school’s second hand uniform shop to buy hand-me downs from local families, at a discounted price. School uniform shops usually stock everything from school shirts to sports uniforms, so you’ll be sure to cross at least a few items off your hefty back to school list.

3. Sell and buy secondhand school items online

Another great option is selling or buying school uniforms from second hand online stores. There are a number of websites, including theuniformexchange.com.au and oldschooltrading.com.au that allow you to sell your kid’s pre-loved uniforms for free.

Plus make sure you check out some of the second hand book shops (sustainableschoolshop.com.au and schoolxchange.com.au) where you can sell or purchase your child’s textbooks at a slashed price. Not only will you make some cold hard cash but it’s also another way of improving your family’s environmental footprint!

4. Purchase pre-owned technology

A national Officeworks survey found parents expect to spend a whopping $620 per child for digital requirements this year. While it’s a common assumption that technology is more environmental due to the reduced paper consumption, there is still significant e-waste resulting from more and more unwanted computers and laptops.

So consider purchasing your kid’s school tech second-hand or ask family and friends if they are upgrading and have a spare computer, laptop or tablet they no longer use.

Once you’ve found or bought your kid’s second hand back to school technology, Justine Davies from essentialkids.com.au suggests investing in a protective cover for delicate electronics (especially items with screens that can crack easily like iPads and iPhones) and engraving your child's name and your phone number on it.

5. Walk or ride to school

The Australian Government recommends Aussie kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day. So if you live near your child’s school there is no reason to drive (unless it’s pouring cats and dogs outside!) when you can enjoy a morning walk or bike ride with your kids. You’ll reduce your petrol consumption, carbon emissions and get fit as a family.

If your busy schedule doesn’t allow this, check if your school offers a walking bus, which is when a group of primary school children walk to and from school with two adults (one walking at the front and one at the back).

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