It’s that time of year – our children are going back to school! Parents are rejoicing, and kids are (hopefully) super-excited about meeting their new teachers and finding out who’s in their class this year. It may be hard to say goodbye to summer, but I am definitely looking forward to the security of an everyday routine as my son enters Kindergarten this year!
And since August is a very busy shopping month for many families preparing for school, we’re going to look at a few tips to help you be a more eco-friendly family in preparation for the new school year,
1) Take Stock of Current School Supplies
The first thing to do when deciding which school supplies your kids need is take stock of the items you already have. This way, you can make a list of the items you still need to buy, as this will help you save money and prevent you from overspending.
Your next task is to find the recycled, biodegradable, and otherwise eco-friendly supplies. Many stores now carry these items, making this task easy. If you do some digging on the internet, you can find some pretty amazing products. I would start with these great lists from PopSugar and Organic Beauty Talk: they include clever ideas including recycled newspaper pencils (with #2 lead!), biodegradable pens, staple-less stapler, and 100% recycled paper products.
Capri Sun Pencil Bag
If your kids are the age where everything needs to “cool,” remind them that recycling and being green doesn’t have to be boring with these awesome recycled juice pouch pencil bags! You can buy them online or make your own with a tutorial from Get Your Craft On.
Other items to consider when buying green school supplies include: solar calculators, backpacks made from recycled products, and swapping school uniforms or other clothing with families from your school.
Lastly, look for paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC certification “is an organization that certifies wood and paper products grown in forests that are responsibly managed.” (EnviroDad).
2) Create Waste-Free Lunches
I remember going to school with my Garfield lunch box almost every day of elementary school. Now that my son is going to Kindergarten, I will begin making lunch for him every day. It is important to our family that we strive for Waste Free Lunches, not only to help save around $250/year, but also to continue being an eco-friendly family. This subject has become so important that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designed a poster for school classrooms and provided ideas to get everyone involved.
So how do you make the switch? It starts with the fun part – buying lunch supplies! Let your children help you so they can feel involved and part of the process! Next, keep in mind that everything you put in your kid’s lunchbox should come back home. So, please consider your child’s ability to take responsibility for their lunch supplies before sending expensive new items with them to school. Talk to your kid(s) about the importance of bringing home everything.
RAWR! Dinosaur Lunch Bag
There are so many great lunchboxes our there but start here or here for some ideas. Look for reusable sandwich/snack bags, reusable water bottles, cloth napkins, reusable utensils, and perhaps even a placemat. Check out this great guide to reusable lunches in only 5 steps by Reusit.
Beginner Bento Lunch
Bento lunches are single-serving meals common in Japanese cuisine They have become an increasingly popular way to prepare lunches for American school children. HelloBee has great articles on getting started with Bento, and you can find a great list of supplies from Wendolonia for when you’re ready to expand your skills. It’s not really that complicated, but it may take some time to teach yourself the little things that traditional Bento lunches may include, such as decorating the food with special markers or cutting the fruit & cheese into different shapes.
Bike Safely! Use Helmets!
3) Encourage the Family to Take Alternate Forms of Transportation
Transportation to and from school can be difficult for busy parents, especially when there are multiple adults at home who work and multiple children going to different schools with various start times. I get exhausted just thinking about that! When your children are old enough, encourage them to walk or ride a bike to school. If you live too far away from the school, look into the school bus schedules or consider carpooling with your neighbors.
What eco-friendly back-to-school tips might you have? Share them with us below!