Green Tips: Back-to-School

Green Tips | August 24, 2019

Back-to-school time may mean the end of summer vacation for kids, but it’s also the start of a new school year, which can be a great opportunity to implement new sustainability habits. From school supplies, lunchtime, to travel methods, there are lots of ways to go green this back-to-school season.

Getting to School

Cars are responsible for almost 55% of nitrogen oxide and 80% of carbon monoxide emissions. This school year, try some of these alternatives to cut down emissions:

  • If you live close enough to school, ride your bicycle. Biking is a great way to get exercise while reducing your environmental footprint. 
  • If you live further away from school, consider taking public transportation. Public transit can save energy and reduce pollution. Subways can produce 76% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile compared to cars. 
  • Carpooling is also a good option if you live further away from school. If you carpooled twice a week, you would conserve 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gases. If 100 people carpooled every day for a year, they would conserve 2,376,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and 1,320 pounds of carbon monoxide

Taking Notes 

Notebooks come with environmental costs. Paper makes up 25% of landfills and 33% of municipal waste nationwide. Each American uses an average of seven trees per year for products like paper, equalling 2,000,000,000 trees per year across the country. Trees are valuable environmental assets and help reduce carbon emissions from our atmosphere.

  • Consider buying eco-friendly notebooks that are made with recycled paper. These notebooks are made from paper that was already used and mixed with water. The paper goes through a process to remove any glass, plastic, or other fibers that shouldn’t be in the paper, and it is pressed to its final product. 


All students need a bag or backpack to hold their school supplies. Consider purchasing a sustainable and eco-friendly backpack made from organic dyes, organic textiles, and recycled packaging. You may also consider buying backpacks that contain biodegradable materials such as cotton canvas, banana fiber, or vegetable-tanned leather. These materials reduce the burden on our landfills.


Avoid carrying lunch in single-use bags and reduce your waste. Switch to reusable lunch bags. Try lunch bags made from materials such as silicone, cloth, and burlap, which are dishwasher safe.

Water is also an important part of lunch but don’t forget to consider how you store your water. Disposable plastic water bottles pollute our oceans and end up in landfills. Creating a plastic water bottle requires 17 million barrels of oil each year. Consider taking reusable water bottles to school and refilling them in fountains instead of buying new bottles. 

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