We usually feel like summer is never long enough, but with all this hot weather, it feels like fall can't come soon enough! Fall is coming, sooner or later, and that means it is back-to-school season. It's an exciting time but it can also be a time of excess. Here are some tips on going green while going back to school.

Fashion

The back-to-school season is a time of rebranding. If your children are like my niece, Dora was soo last season and now it's all about Frozen. The back-to-school wardrobe needs to make a statement. Some statements we approve include the following:

"I got this perfectly good, high-quality skirt from a thrift store. I look great, I'm thrifty and I'm keeping textiles from going to the landfill!"

"Did you notice that my shirt is made from organic cotton/recycled plastic bottles? Yes, I'm adorable and I make consumer decisions that support the environment!"

"I wore this last year and I'll wear it next year and I'll keep wearing it until it has too many holes and then it will become a rag for cleaning the house!"

School Supplies

A new school year often means new notebooks, art supplies, backpacks, pencils, scissors, organizers, books… you name it. Maybe not everything needs to be new. Maybe the kids can use some of the same materials from last year or buy slightly used versions. If buying new school supplies, make sure to consider materials. Choose filler paper that has recycled content. Unusable crayon nubs can be re-formed into larger, usable crayons. Using refillable pens and mechanical pencils is a great alternative to the throwaway varieties.

Lunch

If your children don't like what's on the menu at the cafeteria, you're packing them some delicious and nutritious meals. But what about all that packaging?! First of all, make sure the lunch container is reusable (and cute), not just a plastic or paper bag that gets thrown in the trash. Next, eliminate excess packaging by not getting the single-serve, throwaway containers; instead, get reusable containers. Finally, if your children's school has a composting program, make sure they know how to do it properly!

Transportation

How are your children getting to school? Walking and cycling are green AND they promote a healthy lifestyle. Taking the bus is green AND promotes community socialization. Carpooling is also green and spreads around car duty. But if you choose to drive your children to school, make sure to not let your car idle, especially in the drop-off line—idling produces harmful chemicals that you wouldn't want anyone (especially young, developing children) breathing.


Have a good (and green) school year!