We’ve donned swimming costumes, devoured ice-creams and lounged on the beach. But the end of summer is fast approaching, and it’s time to turn our attention back to school.
Any family with kids (big or small) will know the pressures of getting all your ducks in a row to start the school year. There’s so much to prepare! And the current cost of living crisis has only made things tougher for families up and down the country.
According to Wynsors, buying a full school uniform is predicted to setback parents an eye-watering £230.40 per child compared to an average of £191.10 in 2018. No doubt, the 21% increase will prove a lot for families to manage. And that’s without the added costs of school shoes, bags and coats.
Fortunately, we have a few cost-saving tips you can implement this school year that are good for your wallet and the planet.
1) Take stock of what you already have
One of the first sustainable and cost-saving things you can do is to make an inventory of what you already own. After a long summer, it’s easy to forget what items you still have after the previous school year.
Root through cupboards and draws. Rifle through school bags. And venture to the back of the wardrobe. Once you have everything in one place, you may be pleasantly surprised at how many perfectly usable items you still own. There will be many you don’t need to repurchase after all.
Be mindful of your definition of usable. Half-filled notebooks are a great example of this. Instead of wasting paper and money on brand new notebooks, consider carefully taping down or cutting out the used pages. The rest are still perfectly usable, so don’t let them go to waste!
This brings us to our next tip…
2) Repair, repair, repair
Wear and tear on school items is normal - especially for younger kids. Learning how to do basic repairs is great for prolonging an item’s life and saving your pennies in the process.
Shoes looking a bit scuffed and frayed shoelaces? Give them a polish and replace the laces (you can reuse the old ones in the garden, for DIY or crafts). Missing blazer buttons or ripped trouser seams? Grab a basic sewing kit for these simple fixes.
If some repairs fall outside of your skillset, then offer to skill swap with a friend or bring your items along to the Maidenhead Repair Café! The monthly events are held every second Saturday, between 10am and 3pm at The Eco Action Hub in the Nicholson Centre. Just remember to book a slot in advance!
3) If you need to buy, shop second-hand or sustainably
If you’re sending your little one to school for the first time or your kids have had a serious summer growth spurt, then using what you have won't work. But, buying new doesn’t have to be your first option.
Sites like Uniformed, Grown Out Of It, Uniformerly or Old School Uniform are great places to pick up good quality, second-hand uniform items for your children’s school. Items can also be hunted down on local Facebook groups for schools in your area.
You could also set up a swap system with your local community. You can make a chain from older kids to younger ones to hand uniform items down as each child grows up. This is not only a fantastic way to save money, but it builds a nice community spirit while giving items a second, third or fourth (!) life.
While many schools require items like blazers and ties to be branded, shirts and trousers often don't have to be. When buying these items new, opt for natural fibres like cotton. They’re more durable, easier to repair (or dye should the colour fade) and much better for the environment.
Buy trousers, skirts or dresses in longer lengths. They can be turned up and let down as needed. This is a fab way to make items last the year as children go through their inevitable growth spurts.
4) Walk, bike or bus to school
There’s no mode of transport cheaper or more sustainable than our two feet! Plus, walking to and from school is wonderful exercise to bookend the school day.
Worried about walking alone? Your community likely has a walking school bus where groups of children can walk together accompanied by an adult. Families generally take turns sharing the responsibility, making it a more manageable commitment. For those that prefer two wheels, you may be able to find a variation of the walking bus - a bicycle train!
If you don’t have either, set up your own and kickstart a greener way to get to school in your area.
For schools further afield, public transport is an eco-friendly way to get around. Maidenhead is lucky enough to have a fantastic network of trains and buses with routes linking to local schools. Grab season tickets as the school year begins to get the most economical deal.
If driving is the only option available to you, then consider lift-sharing. You likely live near other parents in the same predicament. Carpooling shares the responsibility between parents, cuts down on fossil fuels, saves money and time!
5) Zero-waste packed lunch
A typical packed lunch every weekday with a packet of crisps, a snack bar and a sandwich wrapped in clingfilm produces around 585 items of single-use plastic in just a year! Plus, all those individually wrapped lunch items are more expensive than buying in bulk.
Fortunately, we’ve got a huge selection of plastic-free products (over a thousand) available at Filling Good - ideal for delicious and healthy lunches. Swap snack bars for our range of dried fruits and nuts, replace crisps with plastic-free packets and choose one of our reusable beeswax wraps to keep your sandwiches fresh.
Need something for your kids to take their lunches in? Pop in store to check out our range of eco-friendly, plastic-free and reusable lunchboxes, water bottles, rucksacks and cutlery. These durable items mean you’ll only need to buy them once saving you money and reducing unnecessary overconsumption.
At Filling Good our priority is to make zero-waste living as accessible and easy as possible. It’s why we work to keep our prices as low as we can while sourcing ethical, local and sustainable products.
Have any of your own sustainable and money-saving back-to-school tips? Leave them in the comments!