School-aged kids spend a large portion of their time away from home. When they are at home, you have some influence over how much energy they use and how green or un-green their lifestyle is. At school, this is another story entirely. Many factors in the classroom are simply out of your control as a parent, such as if recycling is done on campus and so forth. To make campus-wide changes such as this, you typically would need to address the issue with the PTA, principal, and maybe even the school district board. This doesn’t mean you should not work with your school as much as possible to initiate changes where you see room for improvement. However, there are some changes you can make on your own as well that will effect positive, green changes for your kids at school:
Transportation. We’ve all heard the benefits of carpooling, and the truth is that carpooling to and from school with friends and neighbors is absolutely better than driving just your kids alone back and forth. However, there are more green solutions than carpooling. If school bus transportation service is provided in your area, consider this a method of carpooling but on a much larger scale. There are different types and sizes of school buses, but many school buses can easily transport between 75 and 98 students. When the school bus runs full every day, that is a lot of carpool trips saved!
Another option is to skip the car ride to school and walk or ride a bike. This is a great way to get your child’s blood pumping before the school bell rings to ensure he or she is bright and alert. It also cuts down on pollution and energy consumption associated with cars.
Food and Drink. The old standby of the brown paper bag has gone wayside with recent environmental changes. Instead, more and more parents are now using reusable lunch bags. This is a great start, but parents should also consider what is inside that lunch bag. If you have ever eaten lunch with your child, you know that there are tons of wrappers, plastic sandwich bags, and juice box containers that are thrown away each and every day at thousands of schools all around the world. This is a lot of waste that parents like you have complete control over. To make a green change, opt to give your child a water bottle with their lunch. They will have more fluid to drink than what you get in a tiny juice box container, and you can fill it with ice water, juice, and more. Rather than use plastic sandwich bags, invest in some Tupperware containers. You will need to teach your kids to bring them home, as they inevitably are used to tossing everything in the trash. However, when you make these changes, you will have virtually no trash associated with your child’s lunch, snacks, and drinks at school.
Recycle Schoolwork. At the beginning of each school year, you inevitably load your kids up with school supplies that include tons of paper. This includes in notebooks as well as loose leaf paper. At first glance, this may look like paper you have no control over. However, the truth is that most of this paper works its way back into your home, along with much more paper that includes Xeroxed worksheets and other copy paper the teacher hands out. When this paper gets back home to you, make sure you recycle all of the paper that you don’t intend to save for the long-term. This includes the end-of-year notebooks your child brings up just before school lets out for the summer. Simply take a few minutes to ripe the paper free of the metal spiral binding, and then recycle it along with the rest of the papers.
Make the effort to implement these green changes into your children’s school year this year!