Starting School the Green Way

A spiral graph-ruled notebook is on a colorfully striped cloth. An apple is next to the notebook, and colored pencils and a crayon stub are on the notebook. "Back to school" is written on the notebook page. The letters S C H O O L are drawn to look like a bunch of multicolored post-it notes, a pallette of watercolors, a wooden ruler, a happy face with the Os as eyes, and a pencil. there is a shining sun drawn in the top right corner of the page.
Image by Pixabay

It’s that time again… I have one kid in high school, one kid in community college, and one kid homeschooling. I spend most days panicking and checking repeatedly to see who I have to pick up when, and will continue until we’re a couple weeks into our routine. Back-to-school time always ramps my anxiety up to eleven. In addition to chauffeuring my kids everywhere and scheduling homeschool time, there’s the back-to-school shopping. We have to spend so much money and buy so much STUFF. It’s so stressful, and it can be tempting to focus on saving as much time and money as possible and just not worry about being earth-friendly. But the things we buy and do for our kids as they gear up for the new year have an impact on the environment that we can’t ignore. We can’t eliminate this impact, but there are definitely ways we can lessen it.

an assortment of used clothing on various hangers hangs from a length of clothesline
image by Pixabay

Buy used

When shopping for school clothes, make secondhand shops your first stop. Once Upon A Child and Plato’s Closet are two nationwide chains selling clothes on consignment for children and older teens, respectively. I’m sure you can find other kids’ consignment shops and thrift shops near you, and there is eBay and Thredup online. NextDoor, Facebook neighborhood groups, and the Facebook marketplace are also useful places to check.

Since you’re going to the secondhand shops, why not donate or consign your kids’ outgrown clothes and old backpacks, if they’re in good condition?

It might also be possible to buy musical instruments, sports equipment, and art supplies used. Not only is this better for the environment, but it can save you some money.

For lunch, use reusables

Does your child take a packed lunch to school? If so, invest in a bento box or some reusable containers. We use Sistema boxes, but there are lots of different kinds to choose from. Use them instead of ziplocks or plastic wrap for sandwiches, and instead of single-serving packages for snacks and desserts. A reusable bottle of water or juice is much greener than a juicebox. Just avoid glass; most schools have rules forbidding glass bottles because of safety concerns. Thermoses are great for soups and hot meals. If your child will need a fork or spoon, make sure to pack a reusable one (as long as you can trust them to bring it home! We’ve had our share of accidentally thrown-out utensils.). The same goes for a cloth napkin.

Several children's bikes of different sizes and colors, mostly blue, stand in a metal bike rack outside a brick building. There are fall leaves on the ground.
Image by Pixabay

Green transportation

If possible, have your child take the school bus, walk, bike, or carpool. I know that for many people, driving your child to school is the only option. But please avoid idling your car in the drop-off/pick-up lines as much as possible.

A composition book lies open to a blank page. A yellow pencil with a sharp point and what looks like tooth marks leans against the edge of the notebook. A small metal pencil sharpener and some pencil shavings lie on the open page.
Image by Pixabay

School supplies

Sometimes we don’t have much choice in what classroom supplies we buy. Our children’s teachers often want them to have specific notebooks, pencil cases, pencils, markers, etc., especially in the lower grades. But when we do have choices, we can choose the greener options. Binders, pencil cases, and folders made from paper, cardboard, and cloth are better than those made from plastic. Some items might be wrapped in cellophane while others come in cardboard boxes.

By taking a little extra time to think our purchases through, we can make back-to-school choices that are better for the environment, and often better for our wallet as well. I hope you have fun starting the new school year!

Try online arts & crafts classes absolutely free

watercolors, brushes, and a sketchbook open to a blank page, on a wooden surface.
image by Pixabay

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

This is not something I usually do, but today I’m writing a quick post to tell my readers about a great freebie from Bluprint. They’re currently running their Get Started event, and it ends Oct. 12. What this means is that ALL their classes and shows are free. Yes, I said all, and yes, I said FREE. Bluprint wants to build their membership, but they wisely realized that many people won’t want to join a service, even for a month, without first checking it out.

Between now and Oct. 12, go to their website (linked below) and register for one or more of their classes. You don’t need a coupon, and you don’t need a credit card. This isn’t one of those “free” deals where they charge your credit card if you forget to cancel within a certain time (don’t you hate those?).

Bluprint has thousands of classes on all kinds of art, craft, and DIY topics, such as sewing, baking, cake decorating, knitting, crocheting, drawing, painting, jewelry making… the list goes on. I registered for a class on metalsmithing, and I cannot wait to get started.

I did join Bluprint, because I know I’ll want to take classes and have access to their resources in the future, and I think their pricing is completely reasonable. But you totally don’t have to. You can just watch as many classes as you can manage before Oct. 12, and not join at all.

Here’s the link! Please let me know what classes you watch, and what you think of them.

Bluprint Get Started Event: Watch All Classes + Shows For Free at 10/5-10/12/18. No coupon code needed.

Two personality typing books you have to read

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

If, like me, you’re a teeeensy bit obsessed with personality types and quizzes, you have to read Anne Bogel’s Reading People. In this book Bogel goes through the basics of seven different philosophies of personality typing, from simple two-option paradigms such as introvert/extrovert and Highly Sensitive Person, to what is probably the best-known school of personality typing, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which comprises 16 different types. For each paradigm, she introduces readers to a brief history of the typing method, the characteristics of the different types, and how to determine which type you are. Bogel illustrates the types with stores of events in her life and her own personal traits. One caveat: it is obvious that Bogel is coming from a Christian background. She mentions church a lot, and there are Christian books in the bibliography. She is not at all preachy, though, and I would absolutely suggest this book to type geeks of any (or no) religion.

As Bogel notes, the best use of personality typing is not simply to determine your type and leave it at that, but to use this knowledge for personal development. You cannot change your type, and no type is better or worse than any other type. But knowing your type and how it impacts your strengths and weaknesses can help you become the best version of yourself.

Image by Pixabay

This is the basis of Personality Hacker, by Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge. Witt and Dodge are a married couple who host the Personality Hacker podcast. I listen to their podcast regularly, and was excited to read their book as soon as it came out. While Reading People is a broad view of many typing methods, Personality Hacker is a deep dive into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and how to use the MBTI for self-improvement.

Not only do Witt and Dodge devote an entire chapter to each of the sixteen MBTI types, they provide a detailed explanation of cognitive functions and how they work. Their “car model” will help you understand how cognitive function stacks operate for each type, which is really the nuts and bolts of the MBTI, and their FIRM model will help you understand why you might fixate on a certain need and get caught in a problematic cognitive function loop. This knowledge is vital in using typology as a tool for self-development.

Throughout the book, there are review questions for you to answer, if you so choose, to make sure you understand the material. That’s not my kind of thing, but I’m sure it’s helpful for many readers.

You can buy these books from Amazon (links below) or from your local independent bookshop, and I’m also adding both books to my Recommended Reading page.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit
Support Independent Bookstores – Visit


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit
Support Independent Bookstores – Visit

Crafting a Calling

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How do you know who you are, what you’re all about, what your talents are, your passions, your purpose? Some people can answer these questions easily, with barely a moment’s thought. Others, like myself, have a harder time. Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot. I don’t think we have one single grand Life Purpose, but we do have smaller purposes or callings. Things we feel we are meant to do. Things that just feel right. They don’t have to be huge, world-changing things. They just have to be meaningful to us. They also don’t have to be a lifelong endeavor. We can have multiple callings, multiple passions, throughout our lives.

Maybe your calling is to be a doula, or a school teacher. Maybe it’s to open a coffee bar. If we’re lucky, we can turn our passion into a career, but that’s not the case for many of us. We need to pay the rent, and often that means that we follow our passions outside of working hours. Maybe you volunteer at a non-profit on the weekends, helping a cause you believe in. Maybe you get up early to write fiction, or do yoga, or go for a run before hitting the office. Me, I don’t know what my passion is. I’m finding that after almost eighteen years as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m not even sure what my talents or interests are outside of parenting. I’ve heard the advice to ask myself questions such as “What do people ask me for advice on?” and “What could I give a 30-minute talk on without preparation?” My answers to those questions are all parenting-related. For years, people have asked me about breastfeeding and homeschooling. I could talk about either of those at length. I’m the friend that people tag on Facebook when they post an article about breastfeeding or homeschooling. I’m also often asked about babywearing, discipline, and other things relating to being a mom. For a while, I even ran an online forum for local, non-mainstream parents. That was rewarding and fun at the time, but now I’m trying to get back to who I am as an individual, as myself, not as someone’s mom. I love to read, do crosswords, and drink coffee, but I wouldn’t call any of those a passion for me. They’re definitely not something I want to blog about or turn into a job or career.

I do love to do crafts and DIY projects. I don’t have a whole lot of talent in this area, but I have heaps of interest. I just need to learn, to try new things, to practice. I love being creative. It’s fulfilling and a fantastic stress reliever. Maybe, if I try enough things, I’ll find an area that captivates me, and I’ll want to pursue it more deeply. Maybe I’ll be able to turn it into a career. In any case, I’ll have fun, I’ll learn new skills, I’ll make stuff. And maybe I’ll learn something about myself.

Follow along on the blog as I try new things. Right now I’m in the middle of knitting a dishcloth. I’ve been knitting for years, but sporadically, and I’m somewhere between a beginner and an intermediate. I’m committing right now to knitting much more often. I’m also currently taking an online course from Sketchbook Skool called Drawing Without Talent. It’s taught by Danny Gregory, who is disarming and encouraging and makes me believe I can actually become an artist. I’ve also started listening to his new podcast, Art For All, and I’m going to check out some of his books. I have been voraciously consuming books, websites, and podcasts that discuss creativity, especially in terms of how to find and nurture the creativity within you, how to make time for creativity, and how to stop listening to and believing those voices that say “You’re no good! Who the hell do you think you are, calling yourself creative?” So these books seem right up my alley.

I’ve been wanting to learn cross-stitch or embroidery for a while, so I think that will be my next endeavor. There are several Etsy shops that sell kits for beginners. I’m going to buy one of those and get started.