Smart shopping for back to school

Don’t be a wasteful first-worlder

“Let’s go back to school!”
  • “Let’s go back to school!”

Where did the summer go? I blinked and it was suddenly August. Another blink, and August was gone too. As I shared a cocktail last night with a couple friends at Polite Provisions — I love their Tijuana Slowdance — we talked school supplies.

“I visited the Chinaberry website last week,” said Bernice, “and I ordered a little booklet full of jokes for the lunchbox. It will make the transition into the school year a little easier for Lori if I sneak a joke into her lunch each day.” Lunch Lines Lunchbox Jokes booklet of 172 jokes is $9.95.

“They were also selling fruit-scented gel pens, which she loves,” she added. “Anything to inspire more writing.” A 12-count of Juicy Scented Glitter Gel Pens is $10.95.

“I will never quite feel the same about school supplies after watching my cleaning lady rescue a nub of a pencil from our trash can,” said my pal Karen. “She asked if she could have it and added that she would bring it back to her family in Mexico. I felt like such a wasteful First-Worlder.”

“Should I return the fruit-scented pens?” asked Bernice, suddenly feeling twangs of guilt.

“Oh, heavens, no,” answered Karen. “It just changed my perspective, I notice wastefulness more. So when I went shopping last week, I bought reusable sandwich bags and snack bags. Garnet Hill is selling a two-pack with nice designs. I picked up the horse design for my daughter and the red-and-black checkered for my son. They also are selling snack-sized ones that stand upright, which I also bought.” Garnet Hill Reusable Sandwich Bags are $14.95 for a set of two 7-by-7-inch with Velcro closure. Their Reusable Snack Bags, set of two, run $12.95 for the 3-by-6.5-inch self-standing containers.

Colored Marble Composition Notebook, 100-sheet, 50¢ at Walmart.

Colored Marble Composition Notebook, 100-sheet, 50¢ at Walmart.

“My favorite school-supply item is the composition notebook,” replied Margaret. “Nothing holds up quite as well.” Colored Marble Composition Notebook, 100-sheet, 50¢ at Walmart.

The following morning, I polled some teens. Moms have their favorite school supplies, and kids have their own, I figured. “I’m not particular about anything except my pens,” offered Claire. “I like Uni-ball Signo pens, they’re smooth and you can get different ink widths depending on your preference. Micro 207 is my preference [$2.97 for two at Target].”

“I like the colorful designs of the Yoobi products,” offered Maureen. “Yoobi Face Binder Clips are fun; they remind me of the Face cartoon on Nick Junior: one has a mustache, one has teeth, all different faces [Target Yoobi Funny Face Binder Clips, $2.99 for the six-count]. I’m also a fan of cork tape and Washi tape,” she added. “So many uses for it, to mark important dates on my desktop calendar, decorate my binders, I love it. Handmade Modern Cork tape, a variety set of three, is $4.99 at Target. Washi Tape is $2.99 for a roll of 32 feet at Target.

“Mechanical pencils are a blessing from heaven as long as you have lead in the right size,” touted Sylvia. “The best pencils are the ones with the twist-up erasers.” Pentel Twist Eraser Automatic Pencil, 0.7mm, are $4.22 each at Walmart.

Rolling white-out correction tape is very useful, but everyone will ask to borrow it,” she added. Bic Wite-out Correction Tape is $10.99 for a four-pack at Office Depot.

“I like the JanSport backpack,” said Samantha. “Although it’s pricey, it has lasted me a few years. It turned out to be a good investment.” JanSport Superbreak Backpack is $45 at Kohl’s. “I also always buy the 5 Star Notebooks,” she added. The 5 Star Notebook with 2 Pockets is $3 at Office Depot.

Isaac was another 5 Star notebook fan. “I like them because they don’t get all beaten up with use,” he replied, “they maintain their shape, which makes it easy to turn more pages and get to the back of your notebook toward the end of the school year [$6.99 each at Office Depot].

“Also, Zebra mechanical pencils. They’re kind of pricey but I love the weight, and the lead doesn’t break as easily.” Zebra Stainless Steel Mechanical Pencils are $3.19 each at Office Depot.

“I’ve also found I have endless need for my pocket stapler,” he added. “I always need it to staple assignments at the last minute, or staple tests so I don’t have to wait my turn for the class stapler.” The Stanley Bostitch Pocket Stapler with staples is $3.69 for a set of two at Walmart.

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