The time has come – graduation season! If you have a family member about to march to pomp and circumstance, you may be about to spend a bunch of money on supplies so you can properly congratulate them. While it's important to award their achievement, there are ways to do so without purchasing items that will inevitably end up in the garbage. Consider these five alternatives to traditional graduation gear to celebrate your scholar.

  1. Announcements – There's no need to buy announcements from an expensive stationary company. Instead, you can make your own, which will be more personalized as well as eco-friendly. Not to mention, imagine the love that will be put into each announcement! That's a gift in itself.
  2. Cap and gown – Schools will try to charge you an arm and a leg for a brand new cap and gown. We all know that you never wore yours again. It's probably in the back of your closet! Dig that scholar attire out and hand it down to your graduate to be. It'll actually be kind of sweet to keep a cap and gown "in the family."
  3. Noisemakers – It's important to cheer on your graduate with as much noise as possible, but don't go out and buy noisemakers! Those things are usually made of plastic which takes about 500 years to break down in a landfill. Instead, look for ways to make your own noisemakers from recycled materials. It's a fun project and you can feel good about upcycling what would otherwise be trash.
  4. Tableware – If your family is like mine, the entire gang is coming into town to see your graduate walk across the stage. When it's time to feed them all, think of Mother Nature! She doesn't want you using a bunch of Styrofoam plates. If you must use disposable tableware, make sure that it is 100% recyclable or biodegradable. Otherwise, use your dishes! It may be a pain to wash them all at the end of the day but hey! You'll be a lot better off than the environment!
  5. Presents – Instead of purchasing something off of the internet for your scholar, shop local! Supporting local businesses isn't just great for the economy; it also reduces CO2 emissions because it will not have to be delivered to your house. If you must purchase something online, see if they do store delivery. That way, it can arrive at the store the same time as the other deliveries instead of making a special trip to your doorstep.