Back to School Cool – For Less

Okay, pals—we’re in the homestretch now for the back-to-school season. As far as shopping for the necessary supplies and styles, it’s now or never! Don’t let yourself get dragged into stores with long lines and high prices. Come to Goodwill® instead! You’ll be able to cross every item off of your shopping list (from dorm-worthy dishes to kindergarten kicks) all in one place while at the same time bringing educational opportunities into your neighborhood. How? Goodwill Industries International’s Community College/Career Collaboration (C4) initiative, in partnership with local Goodwill organizations and community colleges, increases college and career success for adults with low incomes so that they can access and complete credentialing programs for market-relevant jobs. Below are some of my favorite back-to-school Goodwill finds that have, as a result, helped others enroll in classes, too.

Image via

Shopping with little ones can seem so impossible at times, but bringing them along for the ride is also the only way you can be really sure about the fit of your finds for them. So what do you do when the countdown to the first day of school is in single digits and you still don’t have what you need? You read these super helpful tips for thrifting for your back-to-school needs from Amiyrah of the blog Four Hats & Frugal! She’s got some bold tricks up her sleeve that will help you survive the season, kids in tow. My favorite is to give each kiddo their own cash to shop with. This will help them learn to budget and take charge of their own style. What better way to warm up their brains for school-thinking after months of summer fun? Even the littlest kids (like Alannah, pictured above) can help with this! The most surprising tip on her list: Don’t go thrifting on sale days. Find out why by reading the full post.

Image via

High-school shopping brings its own unique set of problems. Teens will probably want to pour their whole back-to-school budget into fashion pieces. But don’t let them skip the organizational elements that will streamline life between classes. I’m talking about little hanging baskets, pint-sized mirrors, and other tiny items to keep their locker tidy and useful. Everything in this photo reposted on Instagram by Goodwill Industries of Northern New England (Portland, ME) would be super helpful lining the inside of a locker door! While rushing through the hall, your student would be able to quickly swing in to swap out books, grab a new pencil, hair elastic, or calculator without having to dig around for them all. Then, with a quick peek in their hanging mirror, they’re off to their next class before the bell rings. Scope out your local Goodwill for little baskets, bins, and locker accessories like this then grab some strong magnetic hooks to keep them in place. Don’t forget a mini-white board for homework reminders (…or, notes from their pals).

Image via

Once college rolls around, the priorities and shopping needs for students change once again. And yet, Goodwill can still help. From my first day on campus I know I didn’t want anything to do with backpacks. They just felt so childish to me at the time and I hated the feeling of being dragged down from behind. It’s true that companies are coming up with some pretty stylish backpacks these days, but the cute little satchel-type ones I’m head-over-heels for don’t stand a chance when it comes to fitting a laptop alongside three college text books. InStyle magazine suggests going for a chic tote instead and I found the perfect one over on the Fashion Inspiration pinboard put together by Goodwill Industries Serving Southeast Nebraska, Inc (Lincoln). The width and depth of this tote means it will be able to hold books for several classes at a time so you don’t have to run back to your dorm to swap anything out. Sturdy leather will help the bag hold up well over time even when it’s constantly being weighed down. And that camel color matches just about anything! Make sure you scroll through the board for more cool collegiate looks that are perfect for fall.

Does that cover everything on your shopping list? If not, I dare you to check Goodwill for your needs before heading elsewhere. Since Goodwill stores are constantly being stocked with more community donations, you never know what you’ll find!

– Julia Marchand, DIY Blogger


Julia Marchand resides in “the roost” in rural New Hampshire with her husband, son, and two cats. Her passion is finding fun ways to reduce her impact on the Earth and turning her little home into a mini-sanctuary.

When not running the locally owned Sunflower Natural Foods with her husband, she’s hand-making unique treasures and accessories using upcycled materials – fueled by coffee, of course.

Julia is currently blogging about sustainable fashion and her own upcycling DIYs for During her off hours, she spends her time baby-wrangling her young son.

Read more from Julia on her website,