back-to-school-green1.jpgIt’s that time of year again…the most wonderful time of the year, if your kids are heading back to the classroom. This fall marks the first year that both of my children are in school full-time, and I’m trying to make a conscious effort to make it a great green year. Here are some ways that we can all keep the earth in mind as we get our kids settled in to school again and throughout the year.

Use the goods you’ve already got – Take stock of what you’ve got at home and can use again (such as clothing, shoes, knapsacks and school supplies) before you buy everything new.

Reusable lunch containers – Instead of sending sandwiches and snacks in plastic baggies, I picked up a couple of sandwich containers, a compact water bottle and several small reusable containers to pack my kids’ lunches with. I’m not only curbing my household waste output this way, I’m saving money by not having to constantly buy plastic baggies.

Hit up local bookstores before buying new – Check local used shops for college/university textbook titles before shelling out for a new one. Buying second hand is always better for the environment, and it’ll give your wallet a bit of a break, too.

Consider another mode of transportation – If distance isn’t an issue, having your kids walk or ride their bikes to school is good exercise, and an eco-friendly way to get to school.

Target consignment stores for gently used clothing and uniforms – My kids seem to outgrow their clothes faster than I can buy them, which is why the majority of what I buy for them comes from consignment stores. Several of the stores I frequent have school uniforms for sale at a fraction of the cost of a new one. With nine million tons of clothing ending up in landfills each year, consigning and donating your kids’ hand-me-downs is a great way to avoid adding to that staggering statistic.

Choose green school supplies – Do your homework before you hit the store shelves; shopping for green school supplies is easier (and more affordable!) than you may think. Look for pens and markers with water-based inks, non-toxic pencils and soy-based, naturally tinted crayons. Opt for recycled paper (encourage your child to write on both sides!) and pencil cases made from organic, unbleached cotton or hemp.