Eco-Friendly at School
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How to be Eco-Friendly at School

School is the perfect place to put eco-friendly practices in place. Kids spend so much of their time in school! Here are 4 simple ways to be more eco-friendly at school.

Although this blog is for adults, I’m going out on a limb here and telling you to let your kids read this one. Or read it to them or with them! It’s time to get the kids involved!

Green transportation

First, we have to get to school, right? Let’s start at the very beginning (? A very good place to start ?). No matter how you get to school, there are ways to make it more eco-friendly.

Walk

Walking is the best. The fresh air wakes you up. The movement gets your blood pumping, your lungs working, and brain fog clearing. And best of all, no fossil fuels are needed! 

You could also ride your bike or scooter with the same positive effects. Bonus points: no waiting in the school drop-off line! This is a good option for mom and dad, too, with all the same benefits. 

Carpool

Carpooling just means sharing a ride with multiple families. When I was in high school, I was the first on my block to get my driver’s license AND I happened to drive a big purple van. Therefore, I drove everyone on our street to school in the mornings!

You can also think of it this way: fewer cars driving to school means less traffic and fewer cars idling in the drop-off lane. By sharing a ride among several families, you are reducing the number of cars needed to get to school and once again reducing your carbon footprint. Go you!

Bus

Busing is an extreme example of carpooling. If you have the option to take the bus, but often have your mom or dad drive you, stop! Take the bus instead. 

Eco-friendly lunches

Eco-friendly lunches can sound intimidating but they are quite easy when you follow a few basic guidelines.  These guidelines will definitely help you to be more eco-friendly at school!

Reusable containers

Use reusable containers instead of disposable ones. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Everyone has Tupperware clogging up their cabinets. Use containers you can bring home and wash instead of plastic bags or plastic wrap. Don’t forget the refillable water bottle!

Reduced packaging

Next time you’re at the store, encourage your mom or dad to buy your Cheez-Its in a big box instead of the individual snack bags. Then package them in a small container or reusable snack bag for school lunch. This is an example of reducing packaging. 

Another way to reduce packaging is to bring foods that don’t need it. Bananas, oranges, hard-boiled eggs… these are all healthy foods that come in their own containers and don’t need additional packaging. 

Avoid food waste

Avoiding food waste is easy to do and a big step in sustainability. Pack your lunch yourself and choose only what you know you will eat in the time given. This will help you avoid throwing out half-eaten food that you didn’t have time to finish at school. 

Also, make sure foods are packaged correctly so they don’t spoil. Cold foods will need an ice pack and an insulated lunch box so they are safe to eat at lunchtime. 

Garbage or recycling

When you’re cleaning up from lunch, make sure you’re disposing of your garbage properly. Did you know your milk cartons are recyclable? Don’t throw those in the wrong bin! Any other cardboard or plastic packaging can go in recycling but food waste should always go in the garbage. 

If you’re unsure of what can be recycled from your lunch, ask your teacher, or another adult, or bring it home in your lunchbox and check with your parents.   

For more tips on packing a zero-waste school lunch, check out this post!

Eco-Friendly at School

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The 3 R’s: Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a phrase that was started in the 1970s, around the first time people celebrated Earth Day.  

Be mindful of your waste and reduce when you can

What waste do you come across at school? We already talked about a big one – food waste and snack packages. What about school supplies? Do you end up with a lot of broken crayons, old paper, and dried-out markers?  

What about in the school hallways or the playground? Do you see litter often? Set a good example for others by disposing of things properly and encourage others to do the same. 

Make sure you are using things for the full extent of their life and not throwing things out “just because.”

Reuse materials when you can

A lot of cool art projects can be made out of items that were going to be thrown out or recycled – you just have to use your imagination. Think about all of those milk cartons you can turn into birdhouses!

Also, consider if something you are about to throw out at school can be used in some way at home. For example, some families use the backs of schoolwork as scratch paper for coloring or notes at home. Or empty and clean yogurt containers can be used for organizing craft supplies.  

Another fun way to reuse materials is to save bits and pieces of old crayon, peel off the paper, and melt them together (with help from an adult!) into new shapes.  

At the end of the year do you get to bring home your folders, erasers, rulers, and other school supplies? Save them for next year! Just because something is used does not mean it doesn’t still have life left in it.  

Recycle things responsibly and encourage others to do the same

When it comes to the classroom, ask your teacher if the recycling bin can be kept in a place where everyone can easily find it. Do you have to separate plastic, paper, and glass? It’s worth it to ask!

Things like markers, highlighters, and pens can be recycled responsibly by taking them to a TerraCycle drop center. Most office supply stores have recycling programs and can help you with this.  

Learn more about all the things you can recycle with TerraCycle.

Remember, if you’re unsure if something is garbage or recycling, always ask!  

Start an eco-club

Talk to your school principal or activities coordinator and find a parent volunteer to help on your mission. Find other eco-kids like you and talk about ways everyone can be more eco-friendly at school.  

Discuss ways to educate your peers and encourage sustainability school-wide.  

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

Have a playground cleanup day and pick up litter
Start a garden and composting system
Plan a swap event in the school parking lot or gym
Fundraise and donate to eco-friendly causes

How to be Eco-Friendly at School

Let’s summarize the 4 simple ways to be eco-friendly at school!

  1. Green Transportation
  2. Eco-friendly lunches
  3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  4. Start an eco-club

Don’t forget! Set an example and be a role model. Encourage others on their eco-kid journey and have fun in the process!

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More back-to-school related posts: 

The Best Organization and Routines for Back-to-School
How to Find Sustainable and Eco-Friendly School Supplies
How to Get Out the Door on Time with Kids
How to Pack a Zero-Waste School Lunch
DIY Reusable Snack Bag Tutorial

Eco-friendly at School

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