Green Tips: Back-to-School Edition

Green Tips | August 24, 2018

September is approaching and it’s time to start thinking about how you can kick off this school year in the most sustainable way possible. We have put together some tips to help make this school year the greenest yet.

Transportation. To help reduce emissions, avoid driving your child to school when possible. If the school is close by, walk or bike with your child. While diesel school buses are dirty for the air and our health, taking mass transit is always a better idea than driving privately. Another option is to set up a car-pooling system with other parents in the neighborhood.

Idling in your car outside of a school can also be a major source of air pollution. When many parents do this at once, it creates fumes that children walk through and inhale as they arrive and leave school. Prevent idling by parking and meeting your child at the door.

Lunch: While switching from a disposable lunch bag to something reusable is a great start, you don’t have to stop there. Look for a lunch box made of recycled materials, like sustainable and fairly-traded fabrics. Use a reusable wrapper for your child’s sandwiches to avoid single-use plastic waste. Try to pack locally sourced fruits and vegetables in your child’s lunchbox.

Clothing: The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world after oil. Since kids can grow out of clothing quickly, it is often necessary to purchase new clothes before every school year. Buy clothing from thrift stores or flea markets to avoid this unnecessary waste. When you do have to purchase new clothing, avoid stores that use toxic dyes and synthetic fabrics. Some websites, such as Schoola and Thred Up, allow you to easily purchase second-hand clothes online.

School Supplies: When shopping for school supplies, always do an inventory of what you already have before you go to the store. If you have pencils laying around your house, you may be able to save money and reduce waste by not purchasing a new pack. Many vendors now carry supplies that are made from recycled materials. The Ultimate Green Store makes it easy to buy green school supplies from laptop cases to ice packs.

If your child needs to purchase textbooks, try to buy used books. Not only is it cheaper than buying new, but it can also save trees. According to the Environmental Paper Network, if the U.S. reduced its paper use by 10% per year, we would save enough energy to power 228,000 homes, and 11 billion gallons of water.

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