save on back to school

Back to School the Eco-Friendly Way (Pssst… It’s also Cheaper!)

Back to school is a rollercoaster of emotions for most parents. They are joyful that their offspring will soon be developing young minds (that’s our story and we’re sticking to it), but the financial strain of the school supplies list can be daunting. Luckily there are ways in which you can get all your back-to-school supplies while being kinder to the earth and your bank account.

Only get what you need

Make a list and check it twice! Start by going through drawers, cupboards and last year’s backpacks to see what you already have.

Visit your local thrift store to see if they have stationary supplies and backpacks that you could use.

Only buy the items on the list and don’t be tempted to splurge. Avoid items inspired by movie characters as these tend to be more expensive.

Make it Yourself

You can make your own pencil cases (see tutorial here and here) or even a backpack if you have some crafting skills (see tutorial here.)

Got a ton of broken crayons? Don’t throw them out. You can remelt them into really cool shapes using your ice cube tray (see the tutorial here).

If you send your child to school with hand sanitizer, be aware that most contain harmful chemicals. You can make your own DIY hand sanitizer using the recipe here.

Shop online

Online shopping allows you to compare pricing to get the best deals. Always check the shipping costs to ensure that they are cheaper than a trip to the store.

Even if you aren’t shopping online, go to the online stores to find the cheapest prices for school supplies. Combine a trip to these stores with other errands to reduce your carbon footprint and gas bill.

Use smartphone apps to help you to find bargains in stores that offer price matches. Simply find items cheaper elsewhere and show the cashier the ad on your phone so that they can match the price.

Here are some of the apps you can use:

Rodger’s alerts

Checkout 51 (iOS or Android)

Red Flag Deals (iOS or Android)


The Coupons App (AndroidiOS)

RetailMeNot (AndroidiOS)

Cartwheel by Target (Android, iOS)

ShopSavvy (AndroidiOS) / RedLaser (Android, iOS)

Foursquare (AndroidiOS)

Swarm (AndroidiOS)

Swap Meets

Buying in bulk and ‘buy one get one free’ deals mean banding together with other parents will save you money. Availing yourself of these specials and swapping out your extras at a swap meet is fun and dollar savvy.

You can take your swap meet online using online resources like Yerdle, Freecycle, Craigslist, eBay, and your local Buy Nothing Group.

Go Green

Opt for stationary that is made from natural or recycled materials. Natural items are biodegradable and less likely to contain harmful chemicals.

Avoid dollar stores as these sell items that are often made from harmful chemicals. The poor quality also means that they will break sooner and need to be replaced, adding to the landfill and costing you more in the long run.


Coupons are a wonderful way to save and you can really reduce your costs by visiting the following sites to find coupons that you can utilize:

Coupon Divas

The Crazy Coupon Lady


Bargain Briana

Common Sense with Money

Coupon Cravings

Deal Catcher

Retail Me Not

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Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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