Cost-Effective School Supplies Boost Sustainability | Opinion


(Cassidy Molina/Daily Titan)

With each start of the semester comes the promise of a fresh start. However, a fresh start doesn’t always have to be correlated with overconsumption of school supplies.

Last year’s product shortages resulted in understocked shelves. As an answer, students should take advantage of repurposing second-hand items. Students should spare their school supplies at every opportunity as it saves money and does not require new materials to produce items, which ultimately helps reduce the carbon footprint.

A major selling point related to savings is the environmental impact. Unused notebooks, 3-ring binders and pencil cases can be purchased at thrift stores during back to school. Most municipal solid waste comes from paper, so buying a new notebook every semester is a departure from a sustainable lifestyle.

Additionally, notebooks made from recycled paper still require energy and extracted materials, making them slightly better than buying new. Instead, students should invest in reusable notebooks and other school supplies from a thrift store, eliminating the destructive process of pounding energy and materials to produce brand new school supplies.

Another reason to buy school supplies from a Goodwill outlet is that it can help students save money on necessities. Back-to-school expenses have increased significantly since schools reopened. For some students, relying on family funds may not be an option.

Thrifty school supplies allow students to reduce the costs of low budget items. Items that can be tagged at an office supply store, like Staples, may cost significantly less at a charity store. Similarly, thrift store products tend to be marked down with discounts and coupons.

The value of savings cannot be overstated as students buy more clothes to prepare for more in-person classes. Thrift stores and charity shops offer students the opportunity to find high-quality vintage items at great prices. Therefore, more money can be saved for big budget purchases.

Some may object to thrift because the prices of used items have increased due to its recent trend. However, cautious activity led to a drop in the fast fashion market. Every second-hand purchase prevents an item from becoming permanent trash.

The preference to buy new products requires new materials that the Earth cannot keep up with. There is no point in pretending that the Earth has infinite resources as the climate crisis worsens.

Nor is saving an excuse for overconsumption. It does not matter the price at which an item was resold; if it is not a necessary purchase new, then it is not a necessary purchase used. The purpose of saving does not necessarily have to be to replace an entire system of consumption. However, if it is possible to buy used, it should be done.

Thrift stores are easier to find than some people think. Some examples of thrift store chains are Goodwill and The Salvation Army, which can be found in almost every city.

However, if the experience of digging through cluttered shelves isn’t pleasant, smaller vintage and consignment stores offer a more organized experience. Buffalo Exchange on Harbor Boulevard is less than 10 minutes from Cal State Fullerton and is a great choice for repurposed clothing.

Savings have also been facilitated by websites like ThredUp, Poshmark and Depop.

Contrary to common perception, saving doesn’t have to be like searching the shelves and bins of a brick-and-mortar store or searching through photos of anonymous sellers. Saving money can be as simple as getting friends together to swap surplus school supplies.

It can be difficult to start saving items from a back-to-school checklist, but it can be a financially and environmentally rewarding experience.

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