Going back to school means hitting the retail stores and stocking up on all kinds of stuff, right? Well, maybe it means that for some, but the eco-conscious are looking for ways to go green when they get ready to go back to school.
1. The Lunchbox
Remember your lunchbox as a kid? Was it festooned with Star Wars characters, Rainbow Brite, Smurfs, or Superman? Well, times have changed but the principle has not – lunchboxes reduce waste. Go for a used one at an antique store for a retro look, or invest in a reusable cooler bag. Thermoses are still great for transporting drinks and soup. Don’t forget the cloth napkin and reusable flatware.
2. Pencils and Pens
Americans throw away a lot of pens – six billion annually, in fact – and disposable, mechanical pencils are tossed when the graphite stick or eraser runs out. Take an inventory of your existing pencils and pens before back-to-school shopping. You may find you have enough of these writing implements to share!
3. Creative Supplies
Do you really need the new, plastic pencil carrier, or the sparkly backpack, or the holographic binder? After making your list of school supplies, raid your home and see what’s available that may suffice.
You know those thin, flat boxes that parents use to carry baby wipes in? They make excellent pencil and pen cases. You and your child can cover them with customized decorations. Backpacks can be made, or improvised from another sort of carrier. And your child may prefer personalized, cloth totes.
4. Getting There
While buses use a lot of gas, transporting a large number of children in one vehicle is still more efficient than every parent driving his or her children to school. If the bus won’t work for you, try carpooling with neighbors. The good old-fashioned walk to school is a good idea, too, but make sure your child walks to school with a group of kids and a supervising adult. The new term for this is “walk-pooling.” It’s a great way to socialize and work out some energy before school.
Biking is another option for getting to school. Again, an adult supervisor is essential and a group is a good option.
No discussion of going green and going to school is complete without a discussion of paper. There are 220,000 sheets of paper in a ton. And the average school throws away almost 40 tons of paper each year. That’s nearly 650 trees! To help offset some of this waste, try some of these ideas.
* Go through last year’s notebooks and tear out blank pages. Place them in a current binder. It’s very common for a spiral notebook to have less than a third of its pages used by the end of the school year.
* See about getting your school on board with paper recycling. Go to the principal and other key faculty to discuss the implementation of a recycling program.
* On-screen editing can save a lot of paper. If your child absolutely must print a rough draft for review, cut up the scrap paper for notepaper. You can also make notepaper out of misprinted documents.
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