The never ending school supply hunting & gathering fiasco

Most wonderful time of the year my...

I know I’m not alone. I don’t know when it started, but man- 25 years ago getting together back to school supplies was never this ridiculous. We have 4 kids- I get that the insanity is often magnified due to the sheer number of monkeys that must be managed, but the logic of sending 24+ parents on individual supply missions is an exercise in excess & waste.

The pitfalls of individual purchasing:

  • Purchasing items individually means a TON more packaging is tossed in a landfill.
  • Unlike my child’s school, I am not tax exempt.
  • Getting “the best deal” on items requires preternatural flier hunting/coupon cutting.
  • Imagine the gas that is being wasted when 20+ parents go shopping at multiple locations.
  • Further support of big box stores to get “the best deal” little guys just don’t typically have that purchase power.


  • Bobby gets to pick out a fancy folder (?)
  • Coupon gods & goddesses can find their supplies for pennies
  • Local businesses can profit from purchases (if you have one nearby)
  • Doesn’t come out of classroom budget
The packaging thing really got to me today. We try to recycle/reuse what we can from the year before- but consumables like glue sticks get perpetually eaten up and need to be replaced. One of my daughters needed 3.   These are just a typical example of how this product is packaged/non-sale price.
Ok so lets just say, for giggles, that all 20 parents in her classroom purchased the above package.
  • $40 for 60 glue sticks works out to be 67c/gluestick.
  • 20 individual car trips to various stores (assuming at least 1 school supply trip)
  • 20 plastic “blister” shells and 20 full color printed cardboard sheets tossed/recycled (hopefully- but still lots of energy in creation/recycling)
Replace this instead with the purchase of two 30 packs:

  • $18 for 60 glue sticks (now down to 30c/gluestick)
  • 1 car trip by ONE dedicated shopper or single delivery by PO/UPS
  • 2 thin cardboard packages (in this case, again full color printing) easily recyclable.
And this is just the glue sticks!! WTH people?! WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?! I get that it’s not covered in our local school budget IMOHO it should- BUT does anyone have a good example of a PTA or a parent/group run org setting up a fundraiser by selling a “pack” to incoming students? I’m thinking a checklist that can be filled in at the end of the spring of the previous year for items that can’t be re-used? (and then a few parent volunteers to help sort them into classroom boxes) Any other ideas? Ok, back to packing this shtuff up, I’ve got to get some sleep Larry & I are building a back to school balloon scene for a local elementary (in a district that DOESN’T send parents out for supplies… le sigh)