Green Tips for Back To School

earth_childWith summer almost over, the kids are heading back to school!  We’ve compiled some sustainable living tips from the Green Wish Board that we hope you can fit into your family’s lifestyle.

from Raphael Sbarge, Green Wish Founder:

As I look at making lunches for our kids, using plastic bags every day for sandwiches is truly not the best choice for the environment, they are not recyclable, and are always single use.

I have gone out to find alternatives, such as containers that are washable, and re-useable, without BPA’s.  There are plastic and non-plastic choices available out there.  But if one does opt for the plastic container, the important thing is that it can last for 10 months (or longer) as opposed to throwing them out in the landfill every day.

As well, I regularly find ways to discuss saving water— shorter showers, and turning off the water when they brush their teeth.

I have found that if I repeat these suggestions, gently (like recycling) my kids naturally have taken them on, and have made them their own, so that now considering their actions, and environment is second nature.(Ha!)

from Kim Wynn, Green Wish Education Committee Member:

No Waste Lunch

Packing a waste-free lunch may take a bit more time and creativity but, given the environmental benefits, it’s well worth the extra effort.

  • Use a lunch box or reusable bag
  • Put food in reusable containers
  • Pack a cloth napkin to wash and reuse
  • Pack reusable utensils instead of disposables
  • Use a thermos or other reusable beverage container
  • Purchase snacks in bulk size and repack into individual reusable containers
  • Prepare more fresh fruit and less prepackaged food
  • Pack only as much food as your child will eat
  • Label all your containers and water bottles to ensure they will make it back home.
  • Minimize the morning rush by packing lunches the night before and store them in the refrigerator overnight

Did you know that if you use a disposable lunch, you create between 4–8 ounces of garbage everyday? That can add up to as much as 100 pounds per year!

Reducing paper consumption & minimizing the use of disposable paper products/goods

  • increase recycling and use more recycled material
  • work with the Parent Association and/or administration to address paper and purchasing strategies
  • distribute the school bulletin electronically
  • post more communications on class web pages and the school website
  • reuse paper from the recycle bins for scratch paper during math
  • adopt a mindful approach with the faculty and staff when copying and printing
  • encourage room parents to buy in bulk, avoiding individual containers and to opt for healthier food choices.

Be mindful when purchasing Back-To-School supplies

  • Don’t overbuy (only buy what you really need)
  • Use unused school supplies from last year (reuse what you can), before buying more
  • Buy canvas and cardboard binders instead of plastic
  • Buy recycled paper
  • Use a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic ones

Look into your closet first before rushing to buy new clothes

  • Consider a clothing swap with classmates
  • Donate clothes that don’t fit anymore to a local charity

from Victoria Bogner, founder of Green Wish Kansas:

  • Instead of paper bags, napkins, and plasticware, use washable, PVC-free thermal lunch boxes, along with cloth napkins and real utensils.  Instead of plastic baggies, invest in reusable bags, like wrap-n-mats.
  • Inventory items that you already have at home to prevent over-buying supplies.  You’d be amazed at how many glue sticks, paper clips, and erasers you already have!  If you do need supplies like new writing utensiles, stick with biodegradable pencils and refillable pens.  As for notebooks, make sure you use them from cover to cover before recycling them, and buy products with the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content possible.

from Patie Maloney, Green Wish Los Angeles Communications Team

  • In Los Angeles we can all walk or ride our bikes to school but we can carpool to classes, school activities and sporting events.
  • We can buy canvas and cardboard binders instead of plastic.
  • We should use a lunch box, not paper bags and buy local and organic whenever possible.
  • Remember to turn computers off when not using them.
  • It’s unavoidable, we will have to buy things for the upcoming school year. But instead of a regular backpack, how about one from TerraCycle made out of juice drink pouches? Or recycled pencils made from old denim or newsprint.
  • Retailers such as Target and Office Max and brands such as Pilot and Post-It have all embraced the green trend. Just be sure to check your recycled school supplies for durability and minimal packaging.