Every fall we prepare for back to school. This means shopping for new supplies, setting new schedules, and (probably the kids’ favorite) buying new school clothes. Here are a few ideas on how you can "green-up" your back to school routine this year.
Clothes: The best green tip for school clothes is to shop at second-hand stores. You can find great used and unused clothes at low cost to you and the environment. Buy quality clothing that won’t wear out and can be handed down, whether to other kids in your family or on to a thrift store.
Supplies: First, take inventory at your home, find leftovers from last year, and make a list of what you need after gathering everything you have already. We know that shopping for new school stuff is fun, but that pencil purchased last year and never sharpened will work just as well this year! Buy notebooks made of recycled content, with paper that is processed without chlorine and use both sides of every page before moving on to the next clean notebook.
Lunch boxes: Use a washable, reusable lunch box rather than a brown bag every day. Use reusable containers instead of baggies or plastic wraps for your sandwiches and snacks-you can reuse them and your food won’t get squished! Generally, packing healthier lunches will produce less waste; an apple or orange is better for the kids and will leave only compostable ‘wrappers’ left. Also, remember that buying in bulk rather than individual packages will save you lots of money and reduce waste! Packaging makes up 30 percent of the weight and 50 percent of trash by volume. Buy juice, snacks, and other lunch items in bulk and use those reusable containers each day.
Recycling: If you don’t already have it set up, now is a great time to get a couple paper recycling bins in your home. Put one near where your child does their homework and where you pay your bills. Notebook paper, office documents, unwanted mail can all be recycled. You can probably recycle more paper than you think-about 21 percent of household garbage in the Twin Cities metro area is recyclable paper!