It’s time for back-to-school shopping! The National Retail Federation's Back to School survey found the average American family will spend $606.40 on back-to-school supplies and total spending on school-aged children in grades K-12 is expected to reach $21.35 billion. Good for the economy but bad for the planet, unless…..

The Recycling Association of Minnesota has some great suggestions for making your back-to-school purchases more sustainable and more planet friendly purchases.

Purchase 100% post-consumer recycled content school supplies: items such as pens, pencils, loose-leaf paper, notebooks and folders all can be found easily at large retailers. Demand from parents like you has increased availability and options. Prices are not bad either!

Recycle: unwanted shoes at REI in Maple Grove, MN or Bloomington, MN through the Run In & Recycle™ program. This program employs individuals with disabilities and every part of the shoe is recycled.

Buy used: take your outdated or outgrown clothing to a consignment store. They typically will pay you for items which sell. They’re also a great place to find new items to update your child's wardrobe. My favorite consignment stores in the St Cloud area are Margo Mundi’s and Once Upon A Child.

Pack light: skip the bag and use a reusable lunch box. Also you can reduce waste using plastic sandwich bags and instead using a Wrap-n-Mat. It's a placemat, container, and napkin all in one.

Be the champion: schools and other public spaces in Minnesota are required to recycle. Recycling paper, aluminum, cardboard and food waste has a great impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Parents and teachers often lead the way with new recycling programs.

Another school year brings lots of lessons, one of which you as a parent can instill, the lesson of sustainability.

Get more information about recycling, reuse and waste reduction.