Back to School!

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I can’t believe summer is over, but this morning I sent my two guys off to school.

Our major purchase this year is a new backpack for my oldest son. We found a made-in-the-USA brand on Amazon  with a reasonable price and good reviews. I’m curious to see how it holds up against previous bags; our Patagonia backpack is still going strong after 3 years, but a licensed character bag from a big box store barely made it 12 months.

Since I’m busy helping my rascals through their first week of school, I’m throwing it back to a few of my favorite school posts from years past:

Do you love school supplies? I love school supplies. While I haven’t found much in the way of ethical school supply brands, I’m happy to know a few of these products are made close to home.
9 School Supplies Still Made in the USA

While we are waiting for WildyCo to produce a polo shirt or for Everlane to make kids’ clothes that don’t involve cashmere, here are a few other places to shop for standard school attire.
2016 Guide to Ethical School Clothes
Back to School, Sustainably

As always, one of my favorite ways to stay sustainable is to reuse what we already have. Back-to-school doesn’t have to include a new wardrobe or accessories when my kiddos already have what they need.

What are your tips for a new school year?

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Welcoming New Friends

I love doing service projects with my kids, but I don’t make it happen very often. As much as I want to pass down values like gratitude and sharing with others, my busy schedule and fear of commitment often get in the way.

A local organization serving refugees is encouraging Nashville folks to put together “Welcome to America” baskets for families who are new to the United States. After a rough week full of politics and vitriol, I loved creating a basket with a welcoming spirit.



Aside from occasional fussing about what color of basket to choose, my kids enjoyed this way of greeting newcomers to our country. We talked about how the Native Americans welcomed the Pilgrims and helped them through that first tough winter, and how we have the honor as U.S. citizens to do the same thing.


When my kids were younger and taking both of them to the store was miserable for all involved, we did some arm chair projects by selecting items from the Heifer and Compassion International gift catalogs. Each child got to pick something for their donation — bees and rabbits were favorites, and once our extended family teamed up to send money for a goat.


As the kids get older, I’m excited about even more opportunities, like sorting cans at a food bank or serving meals at a soup kitchen. For now, though, we’re starting where we can with what feels right for our family. If you feel prompted to find ways to serve your neighbors, I encourage you to start wherever you are. Maybe you are stuck at home with a new baby or with a chronic illness. Maybe you have time for a quick project but not a recurring commitment. Perhaps, like me, you are a service slacker who means well but just can’t make it work. Can you send an encouraging text to a friend? Bake cookies for the new girl down the street? Every small action you take makes a difference!

The Welcome to America Project with World Relief Nashville runs through November 18. For information on World Relief opportunities in other cities or to learn about donating welcome kits year round, visit

For more service projects to do with your family, check out 10 Ways Your Kids Can Participate in #GivingTuesday on the Nashville Moms Blog.

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9 School Supplies Still Made in the USA

Each year when I post about sustainably made school clothes, I often hear another question — what about school supplies? As a certifiable school supply geek, buying new pencils and pens is one of my favorite parts of back-to-school shopping. Happily, we don’t have to look far to find school supplies that are made close to home. Here are 9 school supplies still made in the USA:


1. Crayola Crayons and Markers


2. Elmer’s Washable School Glue


3. The Write Dudes USA Gold Pencils

4. KinderMat Preschool Nap Mat

5. Mead Five Star Notebooks

Top Flight College Rule Filler Paper

nullPilot EasyTouch Ball Point Pen

nullOxford 4×6 Index Cards



Bic Permanent Markers, Fine Point

Double checking labels is a great idea when shopping for supplies, as many companies source from more than one country. For example, most Elmer’s school glue is USA-made, but their glue sticks are made in China; some Crayola products are made in the USA, but others are made in Brazil.

As I shop for the new school year (or have the urge to buy a shiny, new gel pen!), I’m excited to find so many terrific products made right here in the USA.

Do you love shopping for school supplies? Are you, like me, addicted to shiny pens? I’d love to hear about your finds and experiences!

Some affiliate links are used to support this blog. 

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