Surprise! It's back-to-school time. Well, that's no surprise. What totally surprises me are the lists of school supplies kids are being asked to stuff into their backpacks on the first day of school.
According to a Today show segment, some schools are asking their students to bring zip-lock bags, toilet paper, garbage bags, cotton balls, antibacterial soap (!!!), detergent, paper plates, paper towels and tissues.
Along with the obligatory backpack, pencils and paper, parents are also asked to check their eco-consciousness on the school steps and wave good-bye to their babes while their child wades through a landfill of required stuff.
I met lots of mommy bloggers when I represented the Moms Clean Air Force at BlogHer. I spoke to green moms who were sending their kids back to school with stainless steel water bottles and packing their lunches with DIY lunch bags and reusable napkins. But most parents take their cues from these school lists that require them to consume rather than conserve.
Don't get me going on plastic bags... why would a parent who is trying to cut down on using a substance made from a nonrenewable resource (petroleum) continue to perpetuate the problem?
Can you imagine sending your child to school with toilet paper? No joke.
This New York Times article makes an excellent point: "Schools across the country are beginning the new school year with shrinking budgets and outsize demands for basic supplies. And while many parents are wincing at picking up the bill, retailers are rushing to cash in by expanding the back-to-school category like never before."
Not only is it unfair to ask financially strapped parents to provide such items, it downright stomps all over our environment. Maybe even worse than laying the burden on parents is the message are we are sending our kids: One minute we're telling them disposable products are destructively evil for the environment, and in the next breath, we're literally buying into school requirements.
As a former teacher, I can see how some of these items may be helpful, but are they really necessary? I think not. And if we are ever going to create a culture of conservation, we better get started with our littlest learners.