Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Back To School - the green way!

It’s that time of the year again - a brand new start of the school year for students and their parents!­ Take this opportunity to introduce some new practices into your daily life that can be more environmentally friendly. You may even be able to save costs by switching to more effective and green alternatives for the start of the new school year!

Green Transportation

Reducing your carbon footprint and making healthy choices

To really make a difference and reduce your impact on the environment, beginning this fall, do your best to reduce the amount you drive your kids to and from school. One popular way is to enroll your children into a bus program. School buses reduce a great amount of emissions, especially if it’s a newer bus that is up to date with the current emission-reducing standards. There’s also the possibility of carpool – either one of your neighbours can start carpooling kids from your neighbourhood or you can start your own carpool. 

If your school does not offer a bus program, or if you just live nearby, get your children to ride their bike or walk to school! A co-op walk team can help keep your kids safe by having groups walk together and alternating parent escorts if needed. 

Eco Supplies

Taking inventory and reusing what you can

Before deciding to go out and buy brand new school supplies for your children, take some time to look at what you’re currently have and see if anything can be reused. Why buy new pens and pencils when the old ones are still usable?  No need to buy a new notebook just because a few pages have been used in one from last year, or buying a new pencil case because the old one is out of style. Making smart, economical decisions can go a long way in saving your money and reducing production and waste emissions that comes from purchasing new supplies.

If your children get hungry or thirsty, its better that they reach for a reusable water bottle and plastic container instead of a disposable plastic water bottle and plastic ziplock bag. Either plastic or aluminum, reusable water bottles make for a much better alternative. Visit Good Housekeeping to read the list of some of the best water bottles around. Also, make sure that any water bottle purchased for reuse is BPA-free (Bisphenol A). There are also alternatives to plastic containers, such as SnackTAXI, who offer reusable food sacks. One “snack-sack” can reduce the use of about 1000 plastic bags over its lifetime.

Buying new eco-friendly school supplies

When you have looked over what you have and you’ve decided that you still need some more school supplies, try to lean towards the greener alternative. Many major retailers are carrying recycled and renewable school supplies such as recycled notebooks, paper and binders, and biodegradable pencils. Paper Mate is offering biodegradable pencils that are offered at many major retailers, such as Staples. There is also Ecojot, who offer notebooks, journals, sketchbooks, and more made entirely from post-consumer waste. When looking for a new backpack, look for an environmentally as well as child friendly backpack, one that’s made from recycled material and is padded to prevent back pain. You can check out The Ultimate Green Store or Ecocentric Bags for an idea on some cool backpacks being offered.

Most of the money spent on supplies will be towards new clothes that children are always in need of. If your kids don’t mind, wearing hand-me-down clothing from friends and family or thrift stores can be one of the ways to save money and reduce your emissions. If your children are style-conscious, there are many popular brands like Adidas, Levi’s and H&M that offer clothes made from more eco-friendly material.

The most important thing to consider is that your children must understand and be educated on the importance of the environment and that even the little things can go a long way in sustaining our planet.

Little Steps

Go with what you know

Going green doesn't always have to mean big changes, sticking to some basic principals can make a big difference in little ways! REDUCE, REUSE, & RECYCLE every way you can. 

For more suggestions on going green with kids visit some of our other articles:

Or check out the following links for more resources: