I feel the consumerism of back to school season like a stiff wind in my face. I’m sending my oldest off to preschool, and after 3 years of not caring what she is wearing except for holidays and birthdays, forgetting to brush her hair for days on end, and rarely buying things new for her, I am a bit swept up in how to get her ready.
I’ve been obsessing about backpacks. Really, there is a lot to think about: No PVC (vinyl), lead, no or not much plastic, preferably made in the U.S. with sustainable materials. And all this for under 50 bucks.
I can tell you for preschoolers, it doesn’t exist. (Mama entrepreneurs, take note!). After searching each link on the Center for Health and Justice’s list of back to school items without PVC, I found nothing that would work. I’ve also searched some great resources posted recently on Enviroblog.
I think the search for the backpack is really a front for feeling anxious about letting her go. She is beginning that journey, up up and away, and while that is beautiful and exhilarating, it is also painful and sad for me.
So, I’ve decided to try and make work what we have until we see what she really needs. We have some small cloth bags she can carry, and small glass jars for snacks, and her BPA free Sigg water bottle. That’s enough to get her started. The greenest consumer choice is no choice. Just reuse. So I’ll stop my searching, and pick it up again when I figure out what she really needs. And then, I need to avoid green consumer paralysis, and just make a decision. We’ve all got other things to do.
The marketers are brilliant for instilling in us a sense of false need, you know the drill, cards and presents at every holiday, even ones that we don’t celebrate. The media makes you feel like you’ve failed if you aren’t constantly sending hallmark cards and buying presents.
So if you too find yourself swept up in the market driven, make you feel you gotta have it back to school mania, take a breather. I’m trying to look at her starting school for what it is: her journey beginning, learning, living, and growing.
My girl is 3, she is happy with just about anything. And I know this will change. For now, we are simply not buying it.
photo on Flikr by Danarah under Creative Commons