Make back-to-school shopping sustainable; start with your kids’ closets

  • Wednesday, August 16, 2017 4:26pm
  • Opinion

By Michelle Metzler/For the Auburn Reporter

Ready or not, it’s time to begin planning for a new school year.

With the start of the school come football season, new teachers and a back-to-school shopping list. Before darting out to the store to pick up new clothing and supplies, take a moment to revisit the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.

You already use the 3Rs on a daily basis by recycling all bottles, cans and paper. Decisions about back-to-school clothing provide the perfect opportunity to put the 3Rs to work and step up the sustainability in your household.

• Reduce – Rummage through your kids’ closets and see what you have on hand. The greenest back-to-school clothes are the ones already in your closet. Make a list of items you already own and only purchase what’s needed.

• Reuse – Instead of purchasing new clothes, shop first at the neighborhood second-hand store. You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck and find one of a kind items. Better yet, consider a swap. Check with neighbors and friends and see if you can trade clothing, shoes and backpacks.

• Recycle – Clothing that’s no longer needed can be donated for reuse and recycling. All clothing, (even torn, worn or stained items) can be recycled. Textiles that are wet or mildewed belong in the garbage.

By putting the 3Rs to work, we can reduce the environmental impact of back-to-school shopping in ways that add up. The difference we can make is clear when you consider the big picture: Americans throw away more than 70 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Clothing manufacturing requires precious natural resources including water, energy and land and also generates pollution. The EPA estimates that diverting all of the textiles that are currently being thrown away would reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. In fact, it would have the same effect as taking 7.3 million cars off the road.

Learn more about clothing recycling by visiting King County’s Threadcycle website.

This year, let’s embrace back to school as a time to start new routines that make real and lasting changes in our community and for the environment. Sustainable clothing is always in style.

Michelle Metzler is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. Learn more about lifecycle thinking at sustainability.wm.com.

More in Opinion

Eyman putting his latest fight on his tab

Activist using own money in signature-gathering drive to place a $30 car tab measure in front of voters

New approaches needed to fight super wildfires | Brunell

With Western States wildfires growing in size and destroying more homes, farms… Continue reading

Growth, knowledge, learning at your library | KCLS

Spring is the time of year when many of us focus on… Continue reading

Photo by Michael O’Leary/Everett Herald
                                Photo by Michael O’Leary/Everett Herald
Eyman says he will spend $500K of his own money on initiative

The conservative activist’s self-financing claim points to a lack of deep-pocketed donors.

Cleaning up the complex | Metzler

Solving the multifamily recycling puzzle

Lawmakers hope to examine concerns of Sea-Tac International Airport and its impact on the quality of life in places like SeaTac, Burien, Des Moines, Tukwila and Federal Way.
State antes up money to address bevy of issues

From wolves to airplanes, state looks to tackle issues

Innovative library program emerges for the 21st century | KCLS

The King County Library System has long been committed to offering a… Continue reading

Earth Day flashback: 30 years of Puget Sound recycling | Metzler

What were you doing in 1988? Catching “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in… Continue reading

Trade war could hit Washington hard | Brunell

Any trade war between the United States and China is worrisome, but… Continue reading

State feeds more money to public schools

But bargaining may soon begin for union, lawmakers

Water pressure mounting in West as population spikes | Brunell

As we deal with our population growth, we must address sufficient supplies… Continue reading