Why Parents Should Reject Back-to-School Ads in August

school supplies

Only three weeks left of summer and the ads to stock up and save on school gear are invading our space. Grrrr!

Anxious kids sense the clock is ticking as they try to prolong the inevitable. Meantime, I refuse to listen, look or buy when it comes to the ads for “must have” clothes and supplies for fall.

I can’t stand it when the Christmas ads and music start playing after Halloween. I cringe when the Easter cards appear once Valentine’s Day cards are cleaned off the shelves, or when Fourth of July streamers and hats patriotically appear in windows moments after Mother’s Day.

And I can’t stand this retail intrusion, either.

Here are five reasons why we all should just say “No!” to the pressure to prep for September in August.

1. The ads are specifically designed by marketing executives as a strategy to get us to buy items we don’t need.


Mainly, this addresses back-to-school clothes and supplies. What’s the hurry? After all, in most states, the weather stays pretty much the same in September as in August, and I bet your kids can get by with the same jeans, Converse shoes, socks, tees, sweat shirts and possibly the uniforms they already own.

In addition, if you’re like me, you replaced the backpack in the spring and it is still good to go in the fall after a bit of wear-and-tear during the summer months. Teachers provide supply lists for each class, and many of those items you already own, such as rulers, binders, pencil bags, markers, boxes of tissues, and other supplies. We can get kids excited about entering a new grade without associating the leap with buying new junk.

Better to fill in with what they don’t have and get them excited with one personalized reusable lunch box with homemade organic cookies and a loving note inside.

Dear Lo, have a wonderful first day and eat the vegetables I packed! Insist on moving if you are seated next to Oren again this year. We’re all tired of him eating your pencils. Love, Mommy.

2. School Ads in August rob us of what little freedom we have left.


My kids hear the radio ads to start stocking up on supplies and sigh, “Summer is over already.” I tell them that they have three weeks left and to ignore the stupid radio ads. Stores like Target, Walmart and Sears (the back-to-school headquarters) just want to sell as much as they can to make money ’cause times are hard. But kids still have time to sleep in and play in the sand and do nothing to their heart’s content.

3. The retail goal of accelerating fall works against living in the present.


Isn’t one of the goals of a healthy mind to live in the present and reap the benefits of the Power of Now, as described in Eckhart Tolle’s bestselling guide? Being hit with television, online and radio spots about buying for school encourages us to direct our thoughts towards the months ahead and to rush out now and get ready or else.

Or else, what? Will our child be an embarrassment showing up on the first day in a dress they’ve already worn or uncool dirty shoes? Will they fail miserably without the proper Jonas Brothers backpack or Miley binder and be relegated to a dark corner of the cafeteria to eat alone?

There is nothing to get ready for except for bed after months of unstructured living. Have a nice end of summer dinner, put them down at a decent hour, make sure the alarm clock works, fix a good breakfast and get them out the door and to school on time. There, you a have done your job without blowing $200 on non-essentials.

4. Back-to-School ads are anti-green.


You don’t hear them talking about loading up on eco-friendly ensembles and recycled backpacks, do you?

No, they want you to buy cheap, made-in-China plastics that last a few months and pile up in landfills. It’s sort of like the cell phone manufacturer strategy. They make this stuff as cheap as possible to trick you into thinking you are getting big savings, but the reality is you are buying something made as cheaply as possible in most cases – junk that needs to be replaced as soon as it breaks or breaks down. It’s is always better to buy quality for your kids that will endure rather than getting duped by the ad giants to purchase short-lived, toxic Chinese bulk. Less is more. Quality over quantity.

Plus, no one wants to buy new wardrobes and tons of supplies during a recession. Do clothing swaps with friends, handing down clothes that don’t fit. Just buy what they need and hold firm. Believe me, there is plenty of time to shop for sale items throughout the year. These days, things are always on sale. They need to be!

5. The popular tune School’s Out for Summer means all summer.


Ask Alice Cooper if you don’t believe me. He will tell you the lyrics never said, School’s out for summer until early August because you have to buy stuff. Take back your power and be an ad buster. You have the control to savor what precious time is left of summer. Don’t succumb to the pressure to buy now!

Main Image:  Target

Image 1: Sketchers

Image 2: E.L. Bradley

Image 3: Kohl’s

Image 4: Sodahead

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.