Sustainability does not end in the homestead. Wherever you are, you should always think green. If you, your children or anyone in the family is still studying, you should take the necessary steps to remain self-sufficient and sustainable. In fact, this is one lesson that should be learned by each and every one of us. One way to do so is to take these back to school sustainability tips to heart.
When it comes to back to school sustainability tips, you should think about the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Also, you should prioritize fair trade products.
Back To School Sustainability Tips for School Supplies
Don’t go rushing to the mall or browsing online stores just yet. Check your home first for school items you can still use. This will help reduce the energy and expenses spent on driving to the mall or going online.
Make a list of school items you already have and which ones you need to buy. This will depend on what the school requires, of course. Still, you may have an extra pair of scissors, a box of paper clips, or a bunch of still useful crayons just lying around. Reuse them.
Remove the used pages of your old notebooks so you can reuse them as well. Better yet, make new notebooks out of the old ones. Simply gather all the blank pages and bind them together to make new notebooks. Here’s how.
Also, avoid buying plastic wrap for your books and notebooks. Use earth-friendly alternatives such as biodegradable paper, rice paper, Manila paper, newspaper, or old gift wraps. Use glue, eco paper packing tape or Washi tape.
Choose sustainable school supplies if you do have to buy new ones. There are notebooks, planners, binders, folders and other items made of recycled materials. Other sustainable school supplies include recycled pencils, refillable pens, pens made from recycled plastic bottles, biodegradable pens, and erasers made from recycled rubber.
Back To School Sustainability Tips for School Gear
You’ll need a backpack for all your books and other school supplies. See if the bag you used the previous year is still okay. It may just need a few repairs and a good washing. Purchase school bags made of recycled materials if you really have to buy new ones.
The same goes for school uniforms. Some parents want their children to wear new items from head to toe every first day of school. We’re not here to burst anyone’s bubbles but for sustainability’s sake, give the old school uniforms a thorough check before discarding them and buying new ones.
National Geographic wants you to “green your wardrobe” as part of their list of back to school sustainability tips, which makes a lot of sense. If you’re buying new clothes for the new school year, get them from thrift stores. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for old clothes from family and friends. Buy them at low prices or trade something for the clothes. You’re in luck if they just give it to you free of charge.
If the old uniform along with the shoes and socks still fit, use them. See if they just need a few repairs. If the sole of the schools shoes are worn out, for example, you can take it to the local shoe repair guy and have the soles replaced. He’ll even give them a good shine to make them look brand new. Speaking of, here are a few hacks from Bustle that’ll help bring the life out of your old shoes.
Back To School Sustainability Tips: School Lunch
For your lunch and snacks, you need a bit of planning. According to Food Tank, around $1.2 billion worth of school food are wasted each year. Food waste is a huge no-no when it comes to sustainability.
At home, you never throw out food. You dump your leftovers and kitchen scraps in your compost bin and use them later on your garden or farm. This can also be done at school.
You just need someone (you, perhaps) to spearhead a composting campaign at school or at least have someone give a talk about food waste and composting. As for your child, teach him not throw away his leftovers. Keep them in the lunch box and add to your compost pile when he gets home. Get a compost keeper so it’d be easier for you or your child to deal with the leftovers.
Make Your Own Lunch
You’re better off preparing and making your own snacks and lunch. This is perhaps one of the most important back to school sustainability tips when it comes to school lunches.
If you prepare your kid’s lunch yourself, you’re sure that he’s eating healthy and enough. You also know how much food to pack for your child so there’s less chance of food wastage.
(Related : Produce Your Own Food Through Aquaponics)
Save the Seeds
Ideally, you should have fruit trees at home so you can pack fruits for your child. If not, buy them from the farmer’s market. Avoid produce sold at grocery stores. They have so much carbon footprint. Plus, chemicals were probably used on them. Once done with the fruit, your child should keep the seeds so you can plant them later.
Eco-Friendly Lunch Boxes
Back school sustainable tips call for the use of environment-friendly lunch boxes. The Bamboo mess kit from UCO, for example, is 90% made of bamboo and corn starch. It contains a bit of resin, which is necessary to keep everything together. The nylon Switch Spork is filled with glass while the leak-proof seal is made of silicone.
Another sustainable way to pack lunch is to use a steel bento box. They’re friendlier to the environment and you can pack the right amount of food. As you know, bento boxes have divisions that make it easier to prepare the food.
Use refillable metal bottles and eco-friendly straws for juice or water. You can pack the usual stainless steel utensils if you already have them. Just wash them at home. Others prefer sustainable eating utensils made from bamboo or recycled materials. Avoid using disposable spoons and forks and plastic straws like they were the plague, which they actually are to Mother Earth and its innocent inhabitants.
Back to School Tips for Health and Hygiene
You should never forget about proper hygiene even if you’re at school. After lunch, brush your teeth. But don’t use those plastic toothbrushes that take thousands of years to decompose. Use a bamboo one. Also, stay away from the regular toothpaste. If you want to sustainability, make your own toothpaste using natural ingredients. Here are some DIY toothpaste recipes from Homesteading.
Make sure your child has his own handkerchief or cloth napkin. Use them instead of wasting paper napkins.
The money you save from reusing or recycling school items may be used for more important expenses. Resell or donate the items you’re no longer using so they won’t end up in the landfill.
Back To School Sustainability Tip: Save Energy
If you live close enough, maybe your child can walk or bike to school instead of you having to drive him every day. Even if he’s old enough to drive a car, that’s still no excuse to waste valuable energy and fuel. Besides, he could use the exercise.
Other options with regards to going to school include carpooling, riding the bus, or taking the train depending on what’s available to you.
Make it a habit to turn off electrical appliances whenever you leave a room. If you’re the last student out of your classroom, make sure you turn of the lights. You should also turn the air conditioning unit or fan off.
There are a lot of more back to school sustainability tips you can apply in your life. Hopefully, this short list is enough to inspire you to learn more about sustainability, as well as love for the environment. We send our children to school with the hopes that they would learn valuable lessons that will not only benefit them in the classroom bit also in life. Sustainability is one of those valuable lessons that they should learn even before they set foot in school.
Follow the Gentleman Pirate Club to learn more about sustainability and how you can apply this to other aspects of your life.
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