Start the School Year…Greener

By Brooke Drake, August 27, 2010, Green

It’s hard to believe that it is already back-to-school time! Where did the summer go (except for the intense summer heat that is still lingering)? With all these talks about school, what better way to get ready for school then to do it in a more environmentally friendly way? Here are a few tips to help ring in the new school year on a greener note.

  • Tip #1.  Take inventory.  Each year students receive their school supply list, but this year take inventory to see if there are any items that you already have that are usable instead of purchasing a whole new set.
  • Tip #2.  Purchase “green” pencils or pens.  Since I don’t have school-aged children, I haven’t noticed the progression of school supplies.  Now, you no longer have to buy those plastic packs of disposable pens and pencils. There are more earth friendly versions such as biodegradable pencils and refillable pens (also comes in recycled versions). You can find these items at The Green Office, which is an online retailer of recycled, environmentally friendly and sustainable business products, school supplies and paper.
  • Tip #3.  Stop brown bagging it. Instead of using the good ole brown bag, try using a reusable container for lunches. You can find ones that are PVC-free and thermally insulated, a good item to check out is the Laptop Lunch Box, which contain no phthalates, BPA or lead.  When selecting a lunchbox, be sure to avoid vinyl lunch boxes.  According to an article from, vinyl lunch boxes have been shown to contain harmful levels of lead.
  • Tip #4.  Walk/bike/carpool. I understand given today’s circumstances that may not be a realistic thing to do, so another alternative is to ride the school bus. Even though it tends to get horrible gas mileage, it can hold around 60 children which provides a much cleaner option then single-passenger cars.
  • Tip #5.  Pack healthy lunches.  Now that they have a cool earth-friendly lunch box, it’s time to put in body-friendly food. Ditch the plastic bags of chips and replace with fruits like oranges, apples or bananas or vegetables like carrots or celery.   Not the most “barter friendly” items at the cafeteria table, but hopefully your kids will see the results of healthy eating on the playground.
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