Depending on your point of view, back to school planning can be either joyful or a little depressing. We get it. We don’t want to rush the end of summer, but it’s possible to savor and enjoy summer while also looking forward to fall. And from a certain perspective, getting things organized can be a great feeling, particularly when you’re keeping the environment in mind.
There are lots of great ways to take an eco-friendly approach to the school year. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
While the weather is good, it’s a great time to make sure that your kids are healthy, happy and enjoying the outdoors. Get your kids in the habit of walking or cycling and have them continue that habit when they’re school-bound as well. Not only is it good for them, but also it’s far better for the environment than driving them to school and releasing vehicle emissions.
If the distance is too great, take advantage of a school bus program which essentially amounts to the same as carpooling. Or, teach your kids about taking public transit and have them practice taking transit during the summer before school starts.
You can also arrange a car pool with neighboring kids.
Buy Only What’s Really Needed
In terms of back to school shopping, what do your kids actually need, and what could be reused from previous years instead? Only buy items that your kids actually need. Have your children organize their materials from previous years as part of the planning process and go to the store with a list of “needs” that will keep them from being distracted by the “wants” once they hit the store.
When buying new items, buy good-quality, long-lasting products that can be handed down to younger children.
Get Strategic About School Lunches
At home, consider lunch planning for the fall. Plan to use reusable containers and lunch boxes. If you do need to use waxed paper, plastic bags, or tinfoil, teach your kids to bring it back home with them so that it can be reused several times.
Instead of including box drinks or other pre-packaged drinks, include a small thermos or reusable bottle.
Reinforce Eco Home Habits
While kids are feeling excited about back to school, it’s a great time to remind them about other good lifelong habits that they can work on at home.
Teach them to help with the laundry or, depending on their age, even to do their own laundry and to use cold water when washing clothing.
Teach your kids to take shorter showers, and if you don’t have one, now is a great time to pick up a restricted-flow showerhead.
Remind your kids to turn off the tap when brushing their teeth so that they don’t waste water.
Put your kids on electricity patrol: have them turn off lights, electronic devices and computers when they aren’t in use.
Whether you and your kids are excited for back to school or anxious about it’s arrival, taking the steps to get organized in advance will put you in the right frame of mind to enjoy the seasonal transition and to do your part in helping the environment.
Jennie Lyon is a green lifestyle writer and the owner of Sweet Greens, the award-winning green lifestyle blog. She posts on simple, fun ways families can go green together – starting with her own. When she isn’t blogging, you will find her paddleboarding, sailing, beach-combing, camping, or spending time with her amazing husband and 14-year old son.