Green Tips For The Trip Back To School

Article courtesy of the Clean Air Partnership

Just as quickly as it began, the end of summer is almost here. In just a few short weeks, students across the St. Louis area will be heading back to school. Amid the rush to fill supply lists and find the perfect back-to-school clothes, the environment may not be top of mind, but there are many easy ways to kick off the school year in a greener way and reduce our impact on the planet.

The following tips can help you and your family go green as the kids prepare to go back to class:
Reuse old supplies – Be sure to check to see what supplies may still be left from last year, and reuse those, rather than purchasing all new supplies.

Purchase “green” supplies when needed – These items include recycled and chlorine-free paper and notebooks, pencils made from recycled newsprint and old denim, soy crayons, biodegradable pens made from cornstarch, and scissors made with recycled content. A variety of retailers now offer these eco-friendly options, making them easier than ever to purchase.

Opt for used, rented or online textbooks – This is an easy way to reduce waste and save money. College students can take advantage of used titles offered at discounted prices by campus bookstores and websites like Amazon.com and eCampus.com. Many campuses also allow students to rent textbooks for a nominal fee and return them at the end of the semester. In addition, many schools are now encouraging the use of online textbooks.

Purchase vintage and/or sustainable clothing – A trip to a gently used or vintage clothing store, flea market or consignment shop can be a great alternative to hitting the mall to purchase all new back-to-school duds. But for those who choose to hit the department store, there are many companies that specialize in sustainable clothing made from organic cotton and natural fibers.

Share the ride, walk or bike to class – For kids that live close to school, walking and biking are great commuting options that also offer an opportunity to get some exercise. For those that live close to a school bus route, the bus can offer an eco-friendly way to get to class, especially as more districts purchase hybrid busses. And for those who must drive to class, neighborhood carpools can reduce emissions and also help parents and students save on gas.

Think green when it comes to lunch – To reduce waste, ditch disposable bags and containers and replace them with lunchboxes or reusable lunch bags. Additional waste can be reduced by trading paper napkins for cloth ones and plastic utensils for reusable ones. A thermos is another more eco-conscious alternative to single-serving juice boxes. Also, check and see if your child’s school has a recycling program. If not, consider volunteering your time to help implement one.

All of these ideas are simple, easy steps we can all take, and they can have a very positive impact on the environment and our air quality. To learn about additional ways you can live greener and do your share for cleaner air, visit the Clean Air Partnership’s website at www.cleanair-stlouis.com, find the organization on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.