Heidi Strawn
January 18, 2016

Green back to school

Courtesy Stock.XCHNG

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When doing back-to-school shopping, purchase school supplies made from reused or recycled materials.

It takes a lot of textbooks, paper and pencils to make good grades. Not only is there more homework in September, there’s more waste, too. This year as the kids head back to school, teach them an important lesson about reducing their environmental impact. Jodi Helmer, author of The Green Year, suggests these tips for making the return to school more eco-friendly:

1. Buy recycled school supplies.

Stock the kids’ backpacks with notebooks, binders, paper and printer cartridges made from recycled materials. Choose school supplies with as little packaging as possible (30 percent of the waste in our landfills comes from product packaging) and buy in bulk, if possible. Go through last year’s school supplies to see which items can be used again this year.

2. Shop for back-to-school clothes online.

Letting your fingers do the shopping is better for the environment. On average, e-commerce warehouses use 1/16 the energy of a bricks-and-mortar store. Each minute spent driving to the mall uses 20 times more energy than a minute spent shopping online. This year, put your back-to-school clothes in your virtual shopping car. 

3. Pack a waste-free lunch.

Over 10 billion yogurt cups and 3.6 billion drink pouches end up in the landfill every year. Try packing a waste-free lunch. Seal sandwiches in reusable containers, fill a thermos with soup and pack it all in a reusable lunch bag.

4. Talk about green options for back-to-school transportation.

You can reduce your impact on the environment in a big way if you use public transportation or arrange a carpool. Depending on how far it is to school, you might want to consider letting your kids ride their bikes or skateboards. A walking buddy is also a good option, especially if you can pair younger kids with an older student at the same school.

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