It’s that time of year again, where families are preparing to send the kids back to school and are getting ready for an exciting new school year. But for the families who are focused on not just academics, but also on less waste, and more reusing and recycling all year long, the “Back-to-School” season can be a great time to teach kids how to stay green-minded.
Green Back to School Tips:
- Take Inventory of Supplies at Home First – Before you go school shopping, inventory what you already have at home. If you have supplies that are still usable but are not suitable for school, donate them to the local library, non-profit organization or school. A clothing swap or hand-me-downs can also be a great way to get more use from kid’s clothes.
- Reuse Whatever you Can – Just because it is a new year, does not mean that you need to get all new school supplies. Often backpacks, pencil boxes, and other supplies like scissors can be reused from last year without buying brand new.
- Buy Used or Recycled Supplies – Everything from clothes to backpacks and computers can be purchased used or refurbished. School supplies that are made from recycled content are also available (i.e. notebooks and pencils made from sustainably harvested wood or recycled content).
- Pack Waste-Free Lunches – If you pack a lunch, include reusable utensils and containers instead of disposal containers that fill the garbage. Always pack a reusable water bottle instead of plastic bottles.
- Teach Kids how to Take Care – Backpacks, clothes, and supplies will all last longer if kids practice taking good care of them. Be sure to label your child’s belongings to help prevent them from getting lost or stolen.
- Use Less Paper – Often kids bring home a lot of papers from school. Before tossing the paper in the recycling, use both sides of the paper for scratch paper, drawings, or notes. Encourage using digital copies instead of printing whenever possible.
- Carpool, Walk, or Bike – Consider forming a carpool with other families to reduce your carbon footprint when picking up and dropping off kids at school and after-school activities. When possible, encourage kids to walk or ride bike to school!
- Encourage the School to Promote Recycling – If your child’s school does not have separate containers for trash and recycling plastics, aluminum, cardboard, and paper, talk to the principal or superintendent about starting a proactive recycling program. Recycling bins should be available throughout the cafeteria and campus to make it easy and accessible for kids to recycle.
What other tips do you have for making the school year earth-friendly? Does your child’s school have an efficient recycling and waste management system?