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1. Look for green school supplies, and reuse when possible. Before you head to the store, see if you have pens, pencils and notebooks at home that your child can use this school year (or at least the first semester). You can buy pens made from recycled materials, like the ones from Pilot with 80% recycled content, and find other green supply ideas at thegreenoffice.com. Try to use recycled paper for printing — and print as little as possible.
2. Buy used clothing instead of brand new. Did you know the average consumer throws away 68 pounds of clothing and textiles each year? thredUP.com is a great resource to buy and sell kids clothing in like-new condition; you can save up to 80% off the original retail price, and find some items still new with tags. As an offline alternative, visit your local consignment shop or host a clothing swap at home to save, and help keep clothing out of landfill.
3. Purchase textbooks and kids books used, or rent them. ThriftBooks.com is a great site for used children’s books, textbooks, and novels. You can rent expensive textbooks from sites like BookRenter.com and ValoreBooks. Offline, the library and local used bookstores can be great resources to save on books, and be green.
4. Reuse, recycle, then take recess. Have your child carry a reusable water bottle like the Platypus (bonus: it folds up nearly paper thin in a backpack when empty), and refill it at the water fountain during the day. Pack their lunch in a reusable lunchbox rather than paper bags, with durable (not disposable) utensils, and avoid using single-serve snack packages. According to the EPA, each child who brings a brown bag lunch to school every day generates about 67 pounds of waste by the end of the school year.
5. Find a practically-new laptop or graphing calculator for less. Before paying full price for school electronics, visit sites like Glyde.com, eBay or Amazon and peruse the used products for sale. Many electronics companies like Best Buy and Apple sell refurbished devices that are practically-new and cost significantly less. Some may have been returned in an open box, and never even used.
6. Get your kids sporting equipment that’s already broken in. See if there’s a Play It Again Sports in your neighborhood to pickup someone’s former lucky baseball glove or tennis racquet. If you prefer shopping online, SwapMeSports may have the athletic accessory your child needs. And if you have siblings, even better; hand-me-downs are always green!
7. Consider green backpack options. If last year’s backpack is still in good condition, it is surely just as stylish to cart around books and lunch this year. If your child insists on buying a new one, consider green options like the Keen Daypack made from repurposed materials.
8. Walk, bike, or carpool. Walk your kids to and from school, encourage them to ride a bicycle, or organize a carpool (if distance is a factor). Use the same transportation method for extracurricular events and activities. It’s good for the environment, and for your health!
9. Eat healthy, and local. The greenest snacks for both home and school are those that don’t require packaging, like apples, bananas, peaches and oranges. Buying local produce that’s in-season is also better for the planet, and buying snacks in bulk for school lunches requires less packaging — if you use reusable containers.
10. Encourage your children to lead a greener lifestyle. Whether they are at school, baseball practice, or at home, there are small things that kids can do to take care of the environment. It’s important to be aware of how much waste and energy we generate, and look for opportunities to recycle, reuse, compost, and turn the lights off whenever possible.