It’s that time of year, back-to-school. I know, we have mixed feelings about this time of year. Most kids are groaning, and parents are secretly cheering (one can only take the sibling bickering or hear “I’m bored” so many times). So how do you plan on greening your children’s school year? There are things you can do to reduce their carbon footprint. How about starting with how your kids get to school. Many people drive their kids to school every day. Now, sometimes this is necessary, when there are circumstances like a ridiculously early bus, no public transportation where you live, or heavy instruments that need hauling. In those instances it’s best if you can at least car-pool.
What else can you do? If your kids take their own lunch, then a waste-free lunch is the way to go. Numerous companies both online and in physical retail sites have water bottles, lunch bags, lunch boxes, cloth napkins, sporks, GoToobs, reusable lunch containers and reusable non-plastic lunch pouches. A great place to look in your town is at your local natural foods store or co-op. If you can’t find what you need in town then I have a list of online stores where you can find what you need.
So, transportation and lunch are covered, what else? How about the all important school supplies? Try to replace the typical non-recycled or petroleum-based supplies with recycled content and non-petro based products. Here is a list of products: recycled content notebooks, upcycled wrapper folders and notebooks, upcycled wrapper pencil pouches, recycled plastic pencil boxes, recycled denim or newspaper pencils, stapleless staplers, recycled plastic scissors, solar calculators, soy or bees-wax based crayons, solar backpacks or messenger bags, recycled PET backpacks, well, you are starting to get the idea. Maybe you can’t afford to buy all these items, but maybe you can get a few.
If nothing else, stop wasting your money and poisoning your home with cheap, disposable PVC backpacks. A few years ago I made the switch to good quality backpacks for my kids. PVC or polyvinyl chloride off-gasses for years and contributes to poor indoor air quality. Think about your child having this toxic substance strapped to their back. Plus, most of those cheap backpacks fall apart halfway through the school year and then sit in landfulls (yes, I meant landfulls) for a millennium.
The following is a list of websites and resources to help you green back-to-school.