The end of the school year brings with it a whole range of emotions, not to mention a range of gifts for the teachers and teaching assistants. But do we ever stop to think about the environmental cost of those gifts?
I used to be a teaching assistant in a primary school. When I was starting to go zero-waste, the end of the school year posed particular problems. Many of the gifts were plastic or plastic-wrapped, and were things I was trying to cut out of my life. But on the flip side they were also a heart-felt, so I respectfully took them and usually donated them to the charity shops.
But when I started Embers and Ink, it got me thinking about the environmental impact each of us have and how we can go about minimising it.
If you've never been a member of teaching staff, you should probably know that most of the 'Best Teacher' mugs and ornaments either get left in the staffroom (adding the the yearly pile), sent to the charity shop or just plain binned. This isn't because teachers and teaching staff don't appreciate your thank you's...it's just even if we wanted to put all of this in our house, we wouldn't have room! Think about it: teachers have 30 children each year in their class. That's 30 mugs, 30 teddy bears, 30 thank you teacher poems in frames. EACH YEAR! In ten years, each teacher would have 300 of each! It's just too much.
So here are some tips for buying smart when buying for your beloved teachers and teaching assistants this year:
- When buying for your child's teaching staff, firstly think cards not gifts. To make them planet-friendly, stay away from the glittery and foiled cards, because these can't be recycled. Instead choose a nice bright design without foiling or glitter. And if that card is made from recycled cardboard, even better because virgin material hasn't been used to make this one-off occasion card that will be making it's way to the recycling bin very soon.
- Make it special by getting your child involved to write it! Nothing warms a teacher or teaching assistant's heart more than a hand written note from a child. Especially if your child is really young and all they can write is their name. Nothing will make sure your gift avoids the recycling bin more than this. I've still got a drawer full of hand written cards from 'my kids'!
- If you desperately want to give a gift, make it edible! Teachers LOVE chocolates and cake. And even better might be a bottle of wine! This will make sure your money isn't wasted and your gift is enjoyed. If you want to help the planet even more, stay away from the plastic-wrapped confectionery and bake a cake or some muffins with your kid's help! But make sure they wash their hands and have supervision: nothing puts a teacher off a treat more than the knowledge that 'little Billy did it all on this own' as you see the snot drip down his top lip...
- Finally, if you are flush with cash and really really want to get your teacher something physical to keep, make it a gift voucher. Then they can choose what they want and nothing is wasted.
But most importantly remember: teachers and teaching assistants don't expect anything. It's nice enough to know they've helped your child grow and develop this year... and that the summer holidays are calling them!
If you want to give a fun and colourful planet-friendly card to your teacher and teaching assistant, check out my end of school cards for teachers and teaching assistants. They are printed on recycled card, are recyclable themselves and are blank inside for your own messages.
Even better, when you shop with Embers and Ink you help to fund the planting of trees in reforestation projects around the world! Every $10 (£8ish) I earn at embersandink.co.uk funds the planting of one tree in reforestation projects across the globe. So there is your planet-friendly gift for your child's teaching staff right there!