Green is not just the color of money, it is the color of social-responsibility

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Green Back To School Tips

The summer is half way over and many kids will be returning to school in the next few weeks, so I thought it would be a good time to share some Green Back To School Tips.

Back to school is the perfect time not only for digging out that alarm clock, but also for adopting some greener habits you and your whole family can practice all year long.

Below are some tips worthy of a green star.

1. Take Inventory and Avoid Duplicates

It might be exciting to enter the back-to-school section of your local retailer—so many shiny things and bright colors! But don’t be tempted to buy more than you need. First, check what you already have in stock.
Did your child really use all 500 sheets of paper you bought last year? Is every single pencil worn down to the nub?   Do you really need a new ruler (the measurements haven't changed over the summer, you know) or a package of 68 pens?
Make a list of what you absolutely know you need, what you think you might need, and what you want, and carefully consider which items go in which section of the list. Once your list is complete only buy what you really need for the year and the amount of “stuff” you don’t bring home will be astonishing.

2. Purchase Recycled

It’s unavoidable: You will have to buy some things for the upcoming school year. Many retailers  offer recycled products.  Instead of a regular pencil case, how about one from TerraCycle made out of juice drink pouches.
Just be sure to check your recycled school supplies for durability and minimal packaging.

3. Go the Used Route

Nothing signals the back-to-school season more than a mountain of shiny new books, right?  Not necessarily. If you’re looking to reduce your waste—and the total at the bottom of your receipts—seriously consider buying used, opting for online or renting.
Used textbooks are often available for half off or more in campus bookstores, and Web sites. Amazon carries a broad selection of used titles. Some schools are even experimenting with online textbooks, reducing both your costs and strain on your backpack. Renting textbooks is also another growing option.

4. Swap and Sell

 Somehow in the last year those shorts got way too short. Every school year demands a new wardrobe, but this doesn’t automatically have to mean a shopping spree at the mall. Organize a clothing swap among your friends; you can pass on those tiny shorts to another grateful parent and your child could end up with a Spider-Man T-shirt.

Hand-me-downs are a great place to get started. Thrift stores and second hand stores can be  fun and  a cheap way to send your kiddies back to school in low-impact duds. Style-conscious teens can find gently used but still ultra-hip clothes at  second hand stores. 

Even if your school requires uniforms, everyone will be just as happy to trade in their old for “new.” Same goes for flea markets, consignment shops and thrift stores. Someone’s old skinny jeans could become your daughter’s new favorite fashion statement.

5. Walking, Biking, Busing: Green Transportation to School

Going green while getting back and forth to school offers a familiar refrain: human power -- walking or biking -- is best; riding the bus is next; driving alone is last.  If walking, biking, or busing aren't in the cards, be sure to divide the ride and start a parent carpool.
 You could even arrange a "walkpool,” chaperoning a group on foot to and from school. You’ll save on gas, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, get some exercise and maybe make some new friends in the process.

 6. Think Outside the Lunch-Box
 Don't brown bag it; instead opt for a washable, reusable container to tote your lunch too and from. Just make sure to avoid vinyl lunch boxes which have been shown to contain harmful levels of lead. Instead, invest in a PVC-free, thermally insulated lunch bag. Instead of using baggies and plastic wrap for sandwiches and snacks, use reusable plastic containers.  The Laptop Lunch box system is also a solid choice for reusable lunch-packing, and includes individual containers and beverage holders.
Just by eliminating all that daily wasted plastic and paper, your child could save 67 pounds of garbage a year.

7. Do Your Part

Even if you’ve forgotten how to do long division, you can still teach your kids to recycle when you’re not around. Inquire if your school has a recycling program, and if the answer is yes, explain to your children how to use it.

8. Monitor Electronics

Computers, calculators, printers—it seems like a lot of school supplies nowadays plug in or run on batteries. Even if your child has mastered turning the lights out when they leave a room, there are two more ways to conserve energy even when their gadgets are off. Purchase rechargeable batteries instead of new, and invest in a Smart Power Strip.
At $30 to $40, it’s a bit pricier than a typical power strip, but it’s completely worth it. This strip stops drawing electricity from appliances that are turned off, meaning you don’t have to remember to switch the strip on and off every time. Sounds like something that could be useful all over the house, doesn’t it?

 Do This Stuff All Year
Greening your back to school experience is a great way to start the year, and a great way to make progress toward a sustainable lifestyle, but there's no reason to stop after the year has just started. Apply the lessons you've learned preparing to go back to school to other parts of your non-scholastic life, and, when it comes time to re-supply, follow the tips to stay prepared, organized, and green.

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On another note  I must say its good to be back. My blog was disabled , I was told it was S**M, I don't even want to use that word on here. Thankfully everything has been straightened out and I hope I haven't lost many followers in past the 19 days.  Anyway, good to be back........

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