Get an A+ in Sustainable Back-To-School Prep

Whether your kids are savoring the final days of summer vacation, or if they can’t wait to go back to school, we have a few eco-friendly ways to get everyone back in the swing of things. As you're prepping for a new school year, try adopting a few sustainable habits to help both you and your kids make a positive impact on your community and the planet.

Clothes, shoes, hats, gloves — if your kids don’t have uniforms, you have a lot more options about what they wear to school. Check out the thrift stores or secondhand shops, and let your kids explore your closet to see if there’s anything they’d like. Older styles are back in fashion, and many styles are made with higher quality materials, so they’ll last a bit longer no matter how hard your kids play.

When you send your kids to school with a paper lunch bag, it’s just one more item that gets added to the waste stream. Instead, help your kid decorate their own reusable lunch box in their favorite colors and put their name on it. Plus, it’s less likely that they’ll lose a retainer or whatever note you leave with them. Try adding a cloth napkin to your kids’ lunch box, too. You're never too young to feel a little fancy at mealtimes. Your kid can just toss the napkin back in their lunch box and you can throw the cloths in the wash with the rest of your kitchen towels.

At lunchtime, fresh food means less waste. Shop locally-sourced and in-season fruits to add variety throughout the school year. Plus, apple cores, orange peels, and banana peels decompose quickly, and if the school has a compost, your kid can toss their trash in. Try small upgrades like reusable containers in their lunchbox and put their snacks in cloth sandwich bags. Shop in bulk to avoid all the individual packaging, or if you’re feeling ambitious, make your snacks at home, so you’ll know what your kids are eating each day.

If you live close to your neighbors, why wait separately in a long line each morning to drop your kids off in the same place? See if you can carpool to save time and energy. If kids live close to school, they can walk, bike, or take the school bus with their buddies to get there safely and on time. This has the added benefit of a social interaction for them before your kids even get to class.

When you need to use paper, try to shop recycled materials, and get durable and reusable binders and folders that’ll last all year long. Check out backpacks and accessories made from sustainable fabrics, like cotton or bamboo. If the school allows it, help your kids use digital notebooks, where they can store all of their notes in one place without having to worry about tracking down notes for a quiz or for midterms.

At home, turn off lights and electronics when not in use, and encourage your kids to do the same. ”Phantom” energy can pull power from these devices even when they’re not in use. Adjust your thermostat to conserve energy during the day and your kids can adjust it back when they get home from school. Or, you can try installing a smart thermostat to help maintain the temperature in your home no matter where you are.

Check out a few tips to lower your carbon footprint and help everyone have a sustainable school year. For a start, you can power your home with 100% clean energy. Enter your info below to get started.

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