How to Make the School Year More Environmentally Friendly

Lessons in Eco-Friendliness

Can you believe it—the new school year is already upon us! For busy parents, the fall season usually brings with it a few extra expenses in the form of new clothes and school supplies for your kids. But as you head out to do your back-to-school shopping, it’s important to consider the environmental impacts of your choices in addition to the financial ones. A few of our previous blogs offer some good insights:

  • These “3 Eco-Friendly Back-to-School Tips” will help you stay focused on the environment when purchasing school supplies and clothing. (And be sure to read the comments for even more good ideas!)
  • Time to go shopping? Don’t forget your Reusable Bags! By carrying supplies and new clothing home in these, you’ll underscore the lesson of sustainability for your children as you also help reduce the amount of single-use plastic in the world.
  • Are traditional cleaning wipes on your children’s school supply list? If so, make sure you’re aware of these “3 Scary Reasons to Avoid Disinfectant Cleaners” (and consider sharing this important information with their teachers).

What’s the Best Way to Get There?

Riding the School Bus

Here are some suggestions to consider for getting your kids to school, if they make sense for your family:

  • Walking or biking. This not only saves on fuel resources and costs, but the exercise is good for them.
  • Taking the bus. A typical bus can carry 54 kids—which means up to 54 fewer cars on the road every morning and afternoon.
  • Carpooling. If you’re not on a bus route and you live too far to walk, this is a great alternative. For every passenger in a carpool, you reduce the environmental impact that much more.

What about Lunch?

Making Lunch

According to GreenLivingIdeas.com, the New York State Department of Conservation has estimated that a child who takes lunch to school every day generates an average of 67 pounds of trash over the school year. To reduce waste, try these ideas:

  • Avoid vending machines. Not only are many of these items less nutritious, they are often wrapped in plastic, which goes straight into the landfill.
  • Don’t use plastic food storage containers, which can leach chemicals into food. Instead, use a waste-less alternative like a bento box or insulated bag.
  • Use flatware instead of plastic. Check the local resale shop for inexpensive pieces or try reusable bamboo utensils.
  • Instead of a paper towel, pack a cloth napkin that can be washed and reused.
  • Does their school cafeteria include recycling or composting bins? If so, encourage your kids to make use of them.

Saving Energy at Home

Whether you have a child in grade school, college or you are just looking for ways to save energy in your office or around the house, check out these money-saving and environmentally friendly tips from “Back to School: Conserving Resources.”

comment_2Do you have kids who are heading back to school this fall? What ways have you discovered to help them be more environmentally aware of their choices? We’d love to hear about them—please leave us a comment below.

Resources:

Have you ever brought reusable bags along on a back-to-school shopping trip?

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Yes:
 
85%
No:
 
15%
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