Even though your kids may try to convince you otherwise, it’s time to start back-to-school planning. As you make your school shopping list, you have an opportunity to put your best Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle practices to work. But you don’t have to do it alone; this is a great opportunity to get your kids involved, to have conversations about the things they can do to reduce their carbon footprint and make sustainable choices.
Here are five tips to get you started on a greener school year:
1) REUSE SCHOOL SUPPLIESBefore you start back-to-school supply shopping, spend an hour with your children taking inventory of the school supplies you already have. You’ll probably find extra paper, erasers, binders, dividers – a treasure trove of necessary supplies that will save you from buying new. Making use of items you already have is a great way to save money and avoid purchasing items you don’t need.
2) BUY USED CLOTHESKids outgrow clothes in the blink of an eye, but before you start shopping, keep in mind that the fashion industry is a major contributor to water pollution, plastic pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. The budget-and earth-friendly option is to buy used clothing. Second-hand clothing is a great way to cycle through sizes and styles without breaking the bank. On the flip side, when your little one has outgrown their usable clothing, donate it so someone else can use it.
3) SWAP WITH OTHER FAMILIES
Chances are good that you have a network of other parents who have kids around the same age as yours. Why not host a “Back-to-School Swap” where you swap clothes, school supplies, books, or even toys? It’s a great way to recycle and reuse items that might otherwise go to waste.
4) WHEN YOU HAVE TO BUY NEW,
AIM FOR ECO-FRIENDLY
Biodegradable, compostable, or recyclable options are always the best choice. Even better are those products made from recyclable materials. This is particularly easy when shopping for paper products, but with a little effort, you’ll find refillable pens, soy-based crayons, even tape made from recycled or plant-based materials.
5) PACK A WASTE-FREE LUNCH
Make sure to pack only what your child can eat, reuse, or recycle. Do your best to avoid pre-packaged, single-serving food. Instead, buy in bulk and use your own reusable containers. It puts you in charge of portion size, so you don’t waste food, and keeps unnecessary wrappers out of landfill. Your child’s school might provide a composting option for leftover food scraps, making it easy for them to dispose of extra food waste before they come home.
A waste-free lunch can include:
- A sturdy reusable lunch box or bag
- Reusable ice packs
- Reusable containers made of cloth, durable plastic, or metal
- Cloth napkins
- Stainless steel utensils
- A reusable water bottle
WAITING IN LINE?
TURN YOUR CAR OFF
Waiting in line to pick up your kids from school? It may seem counterintuitive but, go ahead and turn your engine off while you wait. You’ll save fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by turning it off. In a study by Argonne National Laboratory, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and emits more CO2 than engine restarting.