Back-to-School Shopping Can Be Good for the Environment — Really!

Thank you, Savers, for reminding us to "rethink reuse" and for sponsoring this post!

As a mother, I’m always looking for ways to move to a more sustainable way of living. In our house, we recycle, use green cleaners, and have been known to bring kid-sized trash grabbers on our family walks to clean up our neighborhood while we walk the dog. Ensuring that we are doing our part to protect the environment for our children is of supreme importance to me. Maybe it is for you, too!

What if I told you that you could make an impact on the environment by SHOPPING? It’s true — you can!

Did you know it takes 700 gallons of water to create ONE T-shirt? Did you know that as Americans, we send 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year — 95% of which could have been recycled? While I am proud to employ a few “green” practices in my home already, I have completely overlooked the cycle of reuse by not considering the impact of clothing waste. 

Savers is doing its part to combat this waste by encouraging consumers to shop thrift. While many Americans proudly admit to donating or reusing their goods, Savers’ third annual State of Reuse Report found that 60% of North Americans shop secondhand once a year or less, missing the opportunity to save those 700 gallons of water required for a new T-shirt, and continuing the cycle of clothing waste. Savers is encouraging consumers to Rethink Reuse and promoting small yet impactful changes in their own families about clothing. 

I’ve rarely shopped thrift myself, but with the new school year approaching and two new wardrobes to purchase to get my boys through the fall and winter, I took the opportunity to visit my local Savers and try my hand at “rethinking reuse”!

When we entered the store I quickly navigated past the housewares (because I’m a sucker for a pretty bowl and I was on a mission for school clothes!) and found ourselves in the little boys section. My oldest son, who is just starting to become picky about his clothing preferences, found a pair of Nike pants right away and declared that he was “all set.” Unfortunately, those pants weren’t his size, but as we peeked down the rows and rows of clothing we found a TON of options that would fit.


Most of the clothing was in great condition, showing very little signs of wear. I found items from Gymboree, GAP, Nike, Janie & Jack, and Children’s Place — all priced around $4 or less! I picked up a pair of brand new J.Crew Crewcuts shorts — with the tags still on — and felt like I could faint. How had I overlooked this goldmine before? In the end, I tallied up our back-to-school shopping picks, and the total came to less than $70. 

In my happy, budget-friendly delirium, I agreed to allow both boys to pick out a book from the book section. They walked away with a special treat, and I walked away with a big dent in my school shopping list without a big dent in my budget!

Reading Savers’ State of Reuse Report really opened my eyes to the importance of shopping thrift whenever possible. With children who grow so fast I can hardly keep up with the demands of their wardrobes, shopping thrift just makes sense. My experience at Savers was easy, fruitful (hello, clothes with tags still on!), budget-friendly, AND good for the environment — what could be better?