Green Going Back To School Guide

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The average student produces up to 240 pounds of waste throughout the course of the year. You probably did not know that. It is easy not to notice all the Notebooks, Paper, Pens, Pencils, School Lunches and other school supplies that contribute to the amount of waste our kids produce through the school year. You can step up for your kids, and the future of their planet though, and that is why we created this guide. By being just a little bit more conscious about what you buy during the “back-to-school” days, as well as making a few tweaks here and there to how we feed, transport, and condition our kids we can have an impact. They can have a happy healthy future without having to worry about when the planet is going to give up on them. Before we dive into Greening your new school year, think about this: Paper is by far the largest waste at school. The average school throws away the equivalent of six hundred and forty-four trees each year! Let me say that again…

Each year the average school will dispose of approximately 38 TONS of paper waste. That is the equivalent of 644 Trees!
This type of waste is unbelievable, and the good news is, you don’t have to contribute to it. The light at the end of the tunnel is in Going Green. You might already be practicing this new habit at home, with your child’s clothing, or other accessories. Why not help out at school as well? Even if you are the only parent going green, at least there is change made, as opposed to none at all. As you get more comfortable with being Green, and your kids get into the habit of being more environmentally friendly, others will stop and take notice, and then you can inspire them to follow your lead. So let’s get started living green! Our future, our children’s future, and our grandchildren’s futures depend on it.



‘ EM



We already know how horrible gas prices are, and the forecasters are telling us that it’s not soon to change. As adults, we’ve learned to carpool because there is no “big yellow cheese wagon” [read: school bus] to take us to and from work. If your child’s school does not offer transportation to and from school, consider a carpool with other parents in the neighborhood. An interesting fact is that it was parents who started carpools, taking turns transporting to neighborhood kids to and from school. If you are able to get other parents involved, then each parent can take turns driving the children to school each day. This will not be a big revelation for most of you, but carpooling is simple, effective, and eco-friendly. Learn to Green Your Home while the kids are at school free! Click Here | Page 1

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A great way to get others involved is to write ask your child’s teacher to send out emails to other teachers and parents to spread the word about your new carpool. You could also make up letters and have the teacher send them home with the student. This is a great way to save money, go green, and even make a few friends that you might not have met otherwise. If you live near the school, and feel comfortable doing so you might also consider having them walk to school. Imagine how much gasoline you would save your family and the atmosphere if your child walked instead of riding in the car. If they are a little too young to walk to school by themselves, you could even get some extra exercise by agreeing to meet them halfway after school and walking them all the way there in the mornings. Try not to let children walk by themselves. Our world is not as safe as it used to be. If there are other kids in the neighborhood going in the same direction, then ask their parents about everyone walking together. This will enforce a good buddy system. You could even arrange with the other parent for one person to walk halfway with the children in the mornings and then the other person to meet them halfway in the afternoons. Finally, for those of you with children in high school begging you for the keys to the family sedan, or worse, asking when they’re going to get a car of their own, if you live within 1 or 2 miles of school, get them a bike. Just because they are old enough to drive doesn’t mean they HAVE to drive, especially to school. If they complain, you know what to do, right? Whip out the trusty old, “when I was in school…” stories!




One elementary school can produce up to 19,000 pounds of lunch waste each year. That is only one school. Imagine how much waste thousands of schools produce in one day. With child obesity on the rise, you can also probably guess that our kids are spending money on junk food and soda at school vending machines, which creates even more packaging and waste. Some kids have no choice but to purchase their lunch at school, or not eat at all. One way you can do your part is to pack your child a “waste-free” lunch. Instead of using plastic baggies, and other throwaway containers, let’s consider other options. One innovation is Wrap-n-mats. These canvas materials fold up neatly around lunch materials, such as sandwiches, and keep the food fresh. The mats are machine washable and your child can open it up and use it as a clean eating surface. You can purchase one for around $5 from The eco-friendly lunch box from is another useful idea. How many times have you worried about sending carrots and ranch dressing with the hopes that it will not leak out? A laptop lunch box looks just like it sounds, like a laptop. There are separate containers inside to hold any type of food. There is even a place for utensils so that your child will not be throwing away plastic forks and spoons. You can purchase one in a variety of colors if you have more than one child, and they retail for around $20. The lunch box also comes with a handy recipe book with ideas for delicious treats other than the regular PB&J sandwiches. Learn to Green Your Home while the kids are at school free! Click Here | Page 2

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Another reason to go vinyl-free is a study conducted two years ago that found that a number of vinyl lunch boxes contained extremely high levels of lead. Many manufacturers are having their products tested but you can never be too sure. Avoid vinyl all together with a vintage metal lunch box from also has a number of lunch bags made from recycled plastic bottles. Maybe once or twice a week, when you are making dinner at home, make a little extra. You can keep most dishes in the fridge up to 4 days before they are no longer safe to eat. So, after you have that delicious pot roast for dinner, pack it up for lunch. Being Green doesn’t always mean creating more work for you, and leftovers are a great example. In addition, getting your kids involved in choosing what they have in their packed lunches will help you reduce the amount of stuff they don’t eat and end up throwing out. If they are picking the ingredients, you can be sure it ends up in their belly, not in the trashcan. And please… enough with the little bags of chips, pudding containers, and lunchables. Yes, your kids need snacks, but waste-free snacks are incredibly easy to provide. Bananas, apples, and oranges are all healthy and waste free.

You already know that paper is the biggest school-generated waste. When buying school supplies at any time, it’s always important to remember that what’s on sale is not always what is best for the environment. There are more “green” options out there that are not only affordable but you can purchase them on the Internet. This means that you can spend more time shopping for clothing in the mall instead of being in the crowded supermarket at the last minute. There are also tree-less paper products! Made from Costa Rica Natural banana paper, these notebooks are 100% recyclable and the covers have a cool design. The notebooks contain 70 sheets of paper that was not taken from trees. They are also super affordable for only $4.99 at Office Depot or If that is a little too expensive, then spend a few extra minutes in the paper aisles and look for notebooks and loose-leaf with the highest percentage of “post-consumer recycled content.” The main thing to remember is to avoid paper that contains any chlorine. Chlorine treated paper isn’t biodegradable. Loose-leaf paper is one of the most common waste products and if you buy recycled paper, then you will be giving back to the community even more. The quick and easy way to spot chlorine free paper is to look for “processed chlorine free” or PCF on the packaging. Once you get the paper home, it is important to remember to maximize the paper you have. That means if your kids are printing up research material on the home computer, have them use both sides of the paper. Keep a recycling bin right next to the printer too. This will help remind you and your kids that once the paper has served its purpose, it’s time to “re-purpose” it by sending it to be recycled. And for those of you college and high school students with tech-savvy teachers… It never hurts to ask if you can email in your homework. Learn to Green Your Home while the kids are at school free! Click Here | Page 3

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While textbooks do not qualify as a true paper waste, they are eventually thrown out. If your child’s school requires you to purchase textbooks, or if it is a college, buy the textbooks used. They have the same information and usually they are in close to perfect condition. A recent study found that if you purchased used textbooks each year, it could save enough money to send 4,000 students to a four-year public college.




Each year, Americans throw away close to 6 billion pens. Not only is the packaging nonrenewable, but the chemicals are also harmful to the environment. Many elementary schools do not allow ink pens, but higher-grade level schools do. Make sure that the ink pens are made of cornstarch or recycled paper instead of petroleum plastic. Pencils are thrown away much more often than pens, and trees are used in their production. Many office supply stores are beginning to supply eco-friendly writing utensils, and as always, they have mechanical pencils. They are very cool and high-tech looking and they will last much longer than traditional pencils. Paper Mate, one of the leaders in pen and pencil manufacturing, has a line of pencils called EarthWrite. They are made from cardboard and recycled newspaper. Another neat option is the supplies from All of the pencils are made from recycled denim and out dated money. The company also reuses shipping cartons and does not use foam or plastics for packaging. Green Line also makes rulers that match the colors of the pencils. The rulers are priced at 87 cents each and the pencils are 27 cents. Another approach is the writing utensils from the Natural Collection. You can purchase pens made from car parts, pencil cases made of car tires, and recycled pencils that were made from CD cases and disposable plastic cups.

As fads come and go, many kids request a brand new backpack or book bag each year. Some parents have no choice because their children are so rough on backpacks. You can save a great deal of money if you enforce the idea of reusing the same book bag each year. Hemp backpacks are becoming very popular and many do not even look like hemp material. The packs come in a variety of colors and they help benefit the fair trade women’s co-operatives in Kathmandu, Nepal. Hemp is biodegradable meaning that when it is time to change book bags, it will not damage the environment. The backpacks can be purchased for $43 at The Natural Collection has produced a variety of backpacks made of recycled plastic bottles. Because they are plastic, they are water repellent for rainy walks home from school.

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While some children may prefer plastic hard-shell pencil cases, the plastic is not biodegradable. The cloth versions are not always eco-friendly either. Instead, opt for a unique case from designed by the women’s co-op in the Philippines. For the outer shell, recycled foil juice packs were collected by local schools and made into the body of the pencil case. The benefit is that the juice packs do not end up in a landfill for years to come. They have been fashioned into a hip pencil bag, and many kids will be begging your child to tell them where it came from. The juice pack pencil case can be purchased for around $12 at

If your child’s teacher does not mind water bottles, encourage your child to take one to school. It is healthy for them and it will cut down on milk cartons and plastic bottles thrown into the waste each day. You can wash and refill it each day saving you money in the long run. The downside is that most of the colorful reusable water bottles that you will find in the supermarket have the #7 on the bottom. This is the symbol for the chemical Bisphenol-A, which is a chemical that disrupts behavior development and could leak into the liquid in the bottle. Instead, pick a water bottle that is made of stainless steel or a high-density polyethylene plastic. has many colorful choices for your fashion-conscious child.




Vinyl is creeping up again in school binders. Use a polyethylene binder instead. They have the “poly” symbol and they weigh a little bit less. The Rebinder is another option. It is an uncovered cardboard binder made of recycled paper, produced by a local company named Sustainable Group. You can find them at stores such as “Goods for the Planet, “Queen Anne Office Supply” and “Paperhaus.”

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Green Going Back To School Guide brought to you by C ALCULATORS
Many of the regular calculators are a combination of battery operated power and solar power. However, Casio and Texas Instruments have made models that run completely on solar and never need batteries. They can be found at office supply stores, electronic centers, or online. This is also a great excuse for your child to go outdoors in order to re-charge their calculator.

When it is time to upgrade your child’s cell phone, keep it out of the landfill. Both Nokia and Sony Ericsson offer a pre-paid postage return envelope for used phones. Many cell phone companies will also pay you for your old cell phone. Another company that will recycle is If you want another option, check with the domestic abuse programs in your state. Almost every program will accept old cell phones to refurbish for the abused in need. Other cell phone programs involve refurbishing cell phones to send to the troops overseas. If your child’s school is in need of fundraising, you could suggest that each classroom start collecting printer cartridges and mobile phones to be recycled with It is a special program designed just for school and it will help collect funds to benefit the school. Recycool has recently teamed up with Global Trees, and they will plant a tree in the school’s name for each new sign up and one tree for each collection.

Clothes are one of the best things that you can re-use. If there is a tear you can fix it, and you can add specific fabric or details to make it look completely different than it was in the beginning. You will be amazed at how much money you save by shopping at a consignment store and even selling your clothes at a consignment fair. Another option might be to swap clothes with a neighbor. A popular event going on is clothing-swap parties. While this originally started out with adult female clothing, it could be a great way to get new clothes for your child. Simply make invitations and hand them out around the neighborhood, at church, and at your child’s school. Anyone that has a child, tell them to come. To make it more organized, tell each guest to bring their clothes in bins so that they can write their name on it and keep the clothes neat. You can also tell them to put the sizes and gender styles in different bins to keep the party going more smoothly. The fun begins when you can go through each other’s clothes and find some great items for your child’s new school wardrobe. Host the party right before school starts but after everyone has had time to go school clothes shopping. This will ensure that everyone has gone through their kid’s closets and weeded out the things they do not need. The guest can bring their clothes as well for a double clothes swap party. Tell everyone to bring their children so that everyone can be acquainted before school starts. If Learn to Green Your Home while the kids are at school free! Click Here | Page 6

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your little one is starting Kindergarten, then this is a great time for him or her to make friends and feel more comfortable before starting school. If your child’s school requires uniforms, although that is less expensive than a new wardrobe every year, uniforms can get pricey. To save, organize a used uniform store at the school. The funds could go towards the school, and the parents gain a more affordable option. Other companies out there are slightly more affordable and organic if you still need to buy a uniform. Marks & Spencer have a range of polo shirts for children that are affordable and are made of recycled plastic bottles. Spirit of Nature also stocks organic cotton uniforms for younger children and Clean Slate has organic uniforms as well. Clean Slate has co-op buying clubs that could be enforced through the school so that parents could purchase uniforms at cheaper prices.

After you provide your child with recyclable school supplies, encourage your child to organize their own recycling program at school. They can host a “waste free” classroom or lunchroom, and they can educate other classmates about the benefits of saving energy by turning off the lights. Teachers could also get involved and host a contest for who can recycle the most, giving the winner a special prize. Another great way to help your child’s school go green is to propose a citywide school challenge at the next school board meeting. It could also be a fundraising contest. Each school could compete against each other to see who could go the most “green.” The children could get sponsors, such as local businesses, who will donate funds to the winning school. Eco-friendly companies might also donate their earth friendly products in order to help your child’s school get a boost in the contest, as long as you advertise their name. Speak with your child’s teacher or principal about World Water Monitoring Day. The official day is October 18, but the program starts on September 18. People young and old all over the world can monitor the quality of their local watersheds and then enter the results into the international database. This is a great way for your child to learn about water conservation and the effects of harmful chemicals that are put into the water due to non-biodegradable products. The monitoring kits can be purchased at If you cannot find biodegradable products, utilize items that your child used the previous year. The best thing that you can do is to re-use items over and over again. This is especially true if you have more than one child. It is tempting to go out and buy brand new school supplies each year, but you can also re-use items. You could also help your child make a homemade notebook with left over cardboard. You can cover the outside with contact paper and it will look brand new again. The good news is that contact paper comes in all different styles and textures. There are so many green options. Whether other parents work to help the environment or not, every little bit you do helps. If you are doing your part, that is all that you can do. With the economy changing, now is the time to start being green. We can help the environment and help our children stay chemical free. Do not be worried about suggestion green options in your child’s school, and do not wait for someone else to suggest it. More than likely, the other parents will thank you for it. Learn to Green Your Home while the kids are at school free! Click Here | Page 7

Green Going Back To School Guide brought to you by A FTER

Whew! The “rush” is over, you’ve gotten the kids back to school, and you’re living life a little bit more Green. Life is good. The most important thing to remember is that going Green is not something you can do once and forget about for the rest of your life. If we’re going to step up and save the planet then being green must be a lifestyle choice. That’s why in this guide, we’ve done our very best to propose super-simple Green Ideas that are easy to put into action now.

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Description: Summer is drawing to a close and it's time to send the Kids back to school. You've got a lot to think about, and one of the items on that list of priorities probably is not "How will my back to school purchases affect the environment" We've prepared a no-brainer guide to help you get your back to school shopping done and save the planet at the same time!