5 Tips for an Eco Friendly School Year
Headed Back to School?
Summer is coming to an end. Now is the time to start thinking about heading back to school. This year is the year to make a difference. Small changes in how you prepare can have a huge impact on the environment. Choose wisely and always remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
1. Inventory your supplies
Think back to the last day of school. I know. It was a long time ago, but try very hard to think about that super emotional last day back in the spring. Did your child come home with bags of stuff? Did it all look like junk? Maybe not. Chances are that there were some very usable items hiding in the piles of paper and artwork. Our son threw it all in the closet. Some things were of course used to their full potential. No salvaging those. But some of his markers, crayons, pencils, pens, and erasers made it through the year! Be sure to repurpose these treasures for the next school year. You'll not only reduce waste, but save money too!
2. Buy eco-friendly
You've identified what can be reused and made a list of things you need to buy new for this year. Now you are ready to shop. I don't know about your list, but ours is loooooooooong - so much longer than I remember as a child. You may have lots to buy, but that doesn't mean your shopping spree needs to be wasteful. Look for ways to make the excursion more earth friendly. Seek notebooks made with recycled paper, choose pencils made from wood harvested from FSC certified forests, and buy items with minimal packaging. These simple choices can have a big impact on your back to school environmental footprint.
3. Pack your lunch
Packing a lunch every day is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste. Think about it this way... imagine a standard lunch consists of a sandwich, fruit, treat, and drink. If you pack that lunch for disposal, you'll likely use at least one paper bag, two to three plastic bags, and a juice box with a straw. That's five to six pieces of waste used for one meal on one day. What should you do differently? We love our stainless steel lunch containers. They are totally reusable, durable, and easy to clean. No waste generated! Now that our son is in second grade, he will be making his own lunch. I foresee a lot of sunbutter and jelly in his future.
4. Bring a water bottle
We have said it before, but a stainless steel water bottle is a must have for kids. Stainless is probably the best material you can choose for a water bottle. It doesn't generate the waste of paper cups or one-use plastic bottles. It does not contain BPA or contribute to microplastic pollution like reusable plastic bottles, and stainless steel is durable. We don't leave home without five stainless water bottles in tow. Everyone stays hydrated and happy. Some of our favorite stainless water bottle brands include Camelbak and Klean Kanteen.
5. Make your closet more sustainable
Back to school wouldn't be the same without a shiny new outfit, or would it? This year, I challenged my children to find an outfit they already love for the first day of school. The weather is still warm, and there is still plenty of time to show off your sustainable summer style. After school has started and the kids have a better grasp of what is "cool" this year, thrift or buy a couple of staples. Then slowly replace items as your kids outgrow them. There is no need for a massive shopping trip. With this approach you can again reduce waste, save money, and support local thrift businesses. That's a win-win-win!