3 Ways to Go Green for Back-to-School

As the new school year rolls around, our minds quickly turn to folders, colored pencils, expensive textbooks, bad school lunches, and all other new school year things. For kids, a new year of school means summer days ending, teachers waiting with homework, and new school threads. For parents, the new school year usually means extending your daily commute and spending a lot of your savings on all those back to school necessities. As more and more focus is being put on living alongside of our environment as opposed to on top of it, efforts to “go green” have extended to all aspects of our lives. Interestingly, the new school year is a time full of waste and excess in many ways. Before starting a new school year with a slew of new supplies, wasted lunches, and long rides, take these “green” ideas into consideration.

The School Lunch

School lunch is a tricky subject. Kids are picky and packing a lunch can be time consuming for busy parents. While the brown bag lunch with peanut butter and jelly and a prepackaged bag of potato chips is a school lunch classic, there are many better options. For a greener lunch, ditch the brown paper sack. Using a new paper sack every single day for lunch is needlessly wasteful. Consider washable Tupperware or a nice sturdy lunchbox. This will help reduce your paper waste and can keep your child’s food better intact. Rather than individually packing each element of a lunch in a separate sandwich bag, use more Tupperware. Using things that are washable and reusable rather than trash-able is always beneficial for the environment. To go even “greener,” consider sustainable food options for your kid’s lunch. Not only are sustainable products healthier, they are also better for the environment. Look into sustainable produce options at the store and sustainable, organic meat products.

School Supplies

One of the easiest ways to go green with new school supplies is to minimize your waste. Take a careful look throughout the house to find any school supplies and items you might have lost over the summer. Try not to re-buy a bunch of stuff you already have in the house. Take a look through your kids’ notebooks from last year and see if they can be reused. Tear out used pages and use whatever is left. Reuse whatever you can. For items you need to buy new, look for sustainable and recycled products. In K through 12, paper is still king for assignments, tests, not taking, and everything else. Look for paper products that have a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content and that is processed without chlorine. These products are better for the environment and not significantly more expensive to purchase.

The Commute

As a parent, one of the most difficult aspects of a new school year is adjusting your morning and afternoon commute. If your child’s school isn’t on the way to work, this can add a huge chunk of time to your drive and can be a real gas guzzler. Consider carpool options for your child’s commute. You could work out a driving schedule with other parents so you don’t each have to make the drive every day. Fewer cars on the road (even if it’s only two or three fewer) will help the environment and is a greener option. If carpooling isn’t a choice you can make work, consider having your kid take the school bus or riding their bike/walking to school. If the school bus goes by your house to begin with, you won’t be adding to air pollution and emissions. If your neighborhood is safe and you feel comfortable letting your child ride or walk to work, this is a very green option. Get together with a few parents and have your kids travel in a group to and from school.

About the Author

This is a guest post by freelance writer and full time blogger Barbara Jolie. Barbara enjoys sharing her knowledge on accredited online college classes and education with her blogging community. You can reach her at [email protected].

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