Summer’s over, and it’s time to go back to school. If you’re an eco-conscious parent, you probably want to teach your children to love and respect our planet by limiting waste and making “greener” choices. This can be a daunting task, however, especially when your child goes off to school. Not only are they going to be exposed to children who may not share this concern, but often the schools themselves aren’t as environmentally sound as we’d like. So how do you make your child’s school experience a little bit greener? Here are five ideas.
Make your back-to-school purchases eco-friendly : From clothes to school supplies, try to pick out ecologically sound items. Think recycled paper, organic cotton, reusable lunch containers and so on. Check out this article from Tree Hugger for some excellent and inexpensive suggestions.
Buy second hand: It’s always good to buy second hand when you possibly can. This prevents the clothes from being wastefully tossed out, supports the second-hand store (many of which are run by helpful charities) and saves you some money. Why dole out a bunch of cash on brand new things your children will out grow or wear out in a few months? If you shop smart, you can get some nice looking items for a steal.
Pack a green lunch: The food in most American school cafeterias isn’t as nutritious as what you could bring from home. Because they’re feeding so many children on a very limited budget, you can expect the food to be lacking, no offense to anyone responsible. It’s just the nature of the beast.
As a parent, though, you can choose to feed your child a more nutritious meal that has a less negative effect on the environment. Pack a lunch of in-season fruits and veggies and other organic products into reusable containers (avoid wasteful plastic baggies and tin foil) for your child’s enjoyment. Not only will they be eating better for the moment, but they’ll also be learning healthy food choices that will stick with them. Here are some tips for a green school lunch.
Walk, ride bikes or take the bus: This cuts back on the amount of gasses released into the atmosphere, plus if you’re walking or riding bikes, you’re getting more exercise. That’s never a bad thing!
Use environmentally safe products for their evening baths: You probably already do this, but it’s something I want to stress because bath time for children can be a fun and relaxing time in the evenings after school. Since organic bathing products are less harsh than typical soaps and shampoos, it will encourage relaxation and allow for better sleep.
Teach children to recycle at school: Many schools already have a recycling program implemented. Instruct your child to follow the rules about what goes in which container. Tell them why it’s important to separate out the recyclables from the non-recyclables. Encourage them to always make the effort to recycle even if it takes a little more time.
If your child’s school does not have a recycling system in place, here are some tips from Do Something.Org to help you get one started.
Talk to your child beforehand: Talking and teaching is so important in helping a child understand why he or she must behave in an eco-friendly manner. Also, explaining that everyone they encounter at school may not behave as “green” as he or she does will better prepare them for pressure from peers. Teach them about responsibility to the planet and the importance of making wise choices rather than hopping immediately on wasteful trends just because they’re the popular thing to do.
I hope this helps in making your child’s school experience more eco-friendly and enjoyable.