[slideshow id=”Kinderkool”]

“Ms. Cohen said we have to have 24 red pens,” says a pouting second-grader.

“That’s ridiculous, Jacob. You must have written it down wrong,” says his harried mother.

“Mom, can I have this backpack? It’s got ‘Monsters University’ on it,” says the fourth-grader. … Oh, and the lunchbox too. Almost $250 later, Mom and her two boys pile into the minivan. They still haven’t found 3-by-5-inch index cards or 21/2-inch binders. They’ll have to stop at another store.

Ah, the joy of back-to-school shopping …

While not all back-to-school stress can be avoided, why not do your part to put less stress this year on both the environment and your pocketbook? Consider ways to buy less and/or buy more earth-friendly school supplies.

• Does your child really need new boxes of crayons, erasers and scissors? How many of these items lie around your house, in junk drawers or basements? Are there perfectly good pencils in need only of a good sharpening?

• While kids love new binders and folders, and even a new backpack each year, consider if these purchases are really necessary. Perhaps, one or two new items will suffice, supplemented with the gently used school supplies from last year.

• Choose backpacks and lunchboxes carefully, both design-wise and durability-wise. Your child may beg for a Dora backpack this year, but next year, it may be “too babyish.” Instead, choose well-made backpacks with neutral designs that your child loves, even if they are a bit more expensive. That way, she may be happy using them again next year.

Look for school supplies made of recycled or natural materials such as hemp, and avoid using environmentally unfriendly products such as plastic sandwich bags, juice boxes, plastic water bottles and paper lunch bags. Buy recycled paper and other supplies made from recycled materials. These are readily available and, in some cases, cost no more than non-recycled materials. And don’t forget local consignment stores for back-to-school fashions. These are not only easy on the wallet, but they also keep textiles out of landfills.

See all iNSIDER stories on education>>

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