by Ilene Moyher
Back-to-school time brings about new schedules, new clothes, and new school supplies. Why not incorporate a few new habits that will certainly help our children’s futures? We all need to be more environmentally-responsible when getting ready for school. But being ‘green’ can take on many forms. Here we’ll focus on reducing what ends up in landfills and at the bottom of our oceans by creating less trash (see here for just one story on where discarded “stuff” ends up: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch).
- Lunches: Pack ‘no waste’ lunches by buying food and beverages in bulk and putting them in reusable containers. This will also save you money on wraps and individually-packaged items. Encourage your child’s school to move toward reusable (not disposable) trays, dishes, napkins, and utensils.
- School Supplies: First, check your inventory at home and reuse or recycle what you can. For new items, there are many durable, refillable, and eco-friendly options for notebooks, paper, pens & pencils, art supplies, and more. (See a previous article on this site about Naked Binders.)
- Encourage Kids to Take Care of Things and Reuse Them: Ideas include using scrap paper, limiting printing or print on both sides of a page, and adopting any other habits based on concern for resources and the Earth. By living a less disposable lifestyle, you’ll save money, too!
- Consider the Packaging: Try to buy based on the amount of packaging, whether it’s made from recycled content, and whether it’s recyclable. “Waste from packaging accounts for more than 30 percent of all the waste generated each year. Use school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging; use compact or concentrated products; or buy products that come in bulk sizes. Save packaging, colored paper, egg cartons and other items for arts and crafts projects.” (from EPA’s Tips for a Waste-Less School Year)
It all adds up! Just imagine all the garbage that can be eliminated from reducing use of juice boxes and sandwich wrapping alone!
When You’re Aware, You Care
To evaluate the impact of all the eco-friendly practices you adopt, and for some simple improvements to make in your home and office, here are some calculators and resources:
CTGreenScene.com: School Supplies: A Recipe for Disaster, Do You Love Trash?
Remember, the three basics of Operation Trashdown are:
- Reuse or recycle more than you throw away
- Consider product packaging – amount of packaging and whether it’s made of recycled or recyclable materials
- When buying, make choices based on where items will end up (in a landfill? recycled? a treasured keepsake? long usage life?)
Everyone can help make a cleaner earth by embracing the ‘less trash’ mindset in their shopping and daily routines. Think of something you may have already done or can start doing today. Please share your successes and ideas, and encourage your friends and family to think green in this way, as well. If each person adopts one or more habits to shift away from living a disposable lifestyle, and teaches the next generation earth-friendly habits, it will make a big difference.
Challenge: Adopt a new practice every month. Join Operation Trashdown and start today!
Please share these tips with your email, Twitter and Facebook pals. Thank you!
Image courtesy of ThriftTown.com