Summer’s end is fast approaching and school is about to start. As you and your kids get ready, think greener this year. Here’s how.
For young kids:
I loved my trips to Staples with my kids to get new pencils and pens, fresh, clean notebooks, binders and folders for the first day of school, but buying everything new can be wasteful and expensive. Instead….
- Reuse last year’s unfinished notebooks. Just tear out (and recycle) the used papers and they are as good as new. For new, buy notebooks with recycled paper or paper made from natural fibers like banana or coffee.
- If last year’s binders aren’t in good shape, buy those made from postconsumer waste and water-based glue. Fill them with recycled binder paper.
- Reuse last year’s pencils and pens; if you need more, opt for pencils made from reforested wood or recycled newspapers. For young elementary age kids, get nontoxic, phthalate-free crayons.
- Pack a healthy lunch in a reusable lunch bag; buy bulk size wholesome snacks and put them in reusable containers rather than snack-size, throwaway plastic baggies. A piece of fruit is the most beneficial snack option.
- Walk, carpool or take a bus to school to cut down on carbon emissions.
- For after school sports, don’t forget your BPA-free, reusable water bottle.
For older students:
Follow the above tips and…..
- Be ahead of the curve; try a solar-powered bamboo calculator.
- Fun, eco-chic backpacks made from 100% recycled cotton canvas or other recycled materials and messenger bags made from recycled rice sacks with printed graphics are the new look. They are a lot more environmentally friendly than the traditional polyester or nylon ones.
For college students:
Moving in and out of dorms creates a lot of waste. The amount of cardboard and plastic packaging for the new bedding, bath and personal care products, school supplies, etc. is overwhelming and recycling bins are often not available.
- Instead of always buying new, reuse some things from home and try not to bring so much stuff. Dorm rooms are small and you can get away with less. When you do buy new things, buy them at school and avoid shipping. Target stores are everywhere and even sell organic towels and sheets! For futons and other furniture, graduating students often donate their old furniture or look on-line at craigslist.com or freecycle.com.
- Use low energy certified microfridges, computers and tv’s.
- Share appliances with friends – not everyone needs every appliance.
- Use power strips instead of extension cords to save energy and keep air conditioning to a minimum.
- Install CFL or LED light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room. Make sure to unplug your phone charger when not in use to eliminate vampire energy.
- Skip disposable water bottles and get a reusable BPA-free water bottle instead.
- For the late night munchies, eat organic fruits and snacks and compost the waste.
- Choose green cleaning supplies like Seventh Generation for washing your dishes or cleaning your dorm room.
- Decorate your dorm room with air purifying houseplants like spider plants that are easy to grow.
- Get involved with on campus environmental groups, or start your own. Several colleges now have local raised bed gardens – volunteer to work in them. Working with the soil is a great stress reducer and you’ll learn a lot.
- Solo cups are “the” party cups, but they take hundreds of years to decompose and some recycling centers don’t take them. Solo has a new product line of products that are made using recycled, recyclable or compostable materials called Bare® by Solo. Set an example and go for those!
- Always use recycled paper and don’t forget to recycle used paper, bottles and those ubiquitous beer cans!
You are never too young or too old to start making a difference by living greener!
For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.