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Back To School The Green Way

Keeping with the whole “back to school theme” (my last post was about preventing head lice in kids), I thought we’d take a look at how to send the kids back to school the green way. In this article from Big Spring Environmental, they literally show you the ABC’s of going back to school green. You are given tips on things like, how to cut back on waste at lunch, eco friendly supplies, and better ways to commute to and from school.

The Green Way Back to School

School waste

©Ethical Ocean

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end and it’s time for students to head back to the classroom. Why not make preparations for the new school year fun and purposeful by “thinking green?” Stop for a minute and think about how much waste goes on in schools with just the notebook paper, plastic sandwich bags and paper sacks that are discarded. According to Ethical Ocean, 35 to 45 percent of trash in the solid waste stream comes from institutions like schools. Of that share, 40 percent of the total waste stream is composed of paper products. Big Spring Environmental has put together a short lesson on back-to-school shopping and planning to help students and parents reduce this and other waste.

The ABC’s of Back-to-School Green


Credit: TreeSmart

A is for Apple: Okay, so they may not be Macs from Apple Computer, but many schoolsare starting to incorporate computers and online schoolwork and textbooks into the classroom, which will significantly cut down on paper waste over time. One of the first and largest computer initiatives in history was launched by the Huntsville City School System last year and it is a great model for leaving a smaller carbon footprint. When back-to-school shopping, buy paper products including notebook paper, notebooks, sticky notes and tissue that are made from recyclable materials.  There are many interesting and eco friendly school supplies that are great for back-to-school needs.

B is for Boxes: In addition to paper waste in schools, there is also the issue of lunch packaging waste. According to Ethical Ocean, the average school age child throws away 67 pounds of lunch packaging waste each year, which amounts to 18,760 pounds per average elementary school! That is a staggering amount of waste that could be reduced dramatically by using lunch boxes and reusable Tupperware containers. Also, putting multiple food items such as fruits and vegetables in the same container adds to the reduction in packaging waste.

C is for Clothing: One of the biggest costs of returning to school, besides school supplies, is new clothing. Most students want to look good for their return to campus but there are other ways to look good without breaking the bank, while reducing clothing waste. Why not throw a clothing swap party for the kids? Everyone brings clothes they they no longer want to trade for gently used items. It’s simple, fun and a great way to recycle clothing and get a new personal style. Shopping and donating at a consignment store is another way to add new style the “green way,” plus you earn money by donating the clothing you no longer want!

Carpool sign

(c) Can Stock Photo

All good lessons need a teacher to present them, but our “T” word is transportation. The task of transporting the kids to and from school continues long after the back-to-school wave has crashed. Walking or biking to school instead of driving or riding in a car saves greenhouse gases from being emitted and gives the student more exercise. Being conscious of how your actions affect the environment can help students realize that healthy habits and going green can go hand in hand.  Carpooling is another way to reduce carbon emissions. It’s a great lifestyle practice to “go green” as often as you can and incorporate it into more aspects of your life. Other people will catch on and the reduction of waste and greenhouse gases will be more noticeable. Go green when going back to school this year and help spread the word that the green way is the best way!


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