As the “going green” trend continues, with restaurants switching to paper straws and grocery stores prohibiting the use of plastic bags, you may be thinking of the ways you can make the switch to eco-friendly products at home. With the new school year now in full gear, we’ve compiled 10 ways for you and your children to go green in the classroom throughout the year.
1. Use reusable containers and bottles.
Instead of using plastic bags for sandwiches and snacks, making the switch to dishwasher-safe containers with lids will not only decrease your use of plastic but will save you money! We’re also a fan of reusable beeswax food wraps.
Another way to conserve waste is to use refillable bottles. While plastic water bottles are convenient for students to carry to class or use during soccer practice, they’re harmful to the environment. These bottles often come in a variety of sizes and colors; some are even made to keep your child’s water cold all day to keep them well hydrated.
2. Purchase recycled school supplies or reuse last year’s.
Why purchase a new backpack when you already have one? Reusing leftover materials from last year – such as paper, pencils, markers and folders – is an easy way to practice sustainability (and save on back-to-school costs). There are also eco-friendly school supplies available for purchase online and in certain stores.
3. Take notes digitally.
While this may not be applicable to young ones, most high school and college students are allowed to bring a laptop or tablet to class. Taking notes digitally is an easy way to reduce paper consumption. Bonus: Even the most disorganized students can better manage school materials by keeping all of their documents in one place!
4. Power down!
Since your child will be out of the house all day, take this time to unplug any electronics that may not be in use. Even though they might be “sleeping,” electronics still use phantom power – unless they’re unplugged. This will reduce power consumption and energy costs.
5. Plant a garden.
Either at home or at school, starting a garden is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint, get in touch with nature and create a sense of community with those who are participating. A garden is also a great way to introduce your kids to responsibility by having them water the plants or pull weeds weekly.
6. Reduce water usage.
Taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet when brushing teeth are simple ways to conserve water during your kids’ morning and evening routines. By doing so, you can save aquatic environments and creatures and protect drinking water sources.
7. Open windows.
Take advantage of the upcoming crisp fall days by opening the windows and letting in the breeze. Turning off the air conditioning is a great way to conserve energy.
8. Recycle and create a composting pile.
One of the most common ways to conserve energy and reduce your trash emissions is by recycling. Most cities, including Memphis, have a weekly recyclable material pickup – so there’s no excuse for our fellow Memphians to not recycle!
Another option is to create a compost pile. A compost pile utilizes foods and materials that can be broken down in the soil and used as fertilizer. See how companies like The Compost Fairy in Memphis make it incredibly easy for families.
9. Eat less meat.
Greenhouse gases are gaseous compounds that absorb infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere, leading to global warming. The raising of livestock and production of meat are major contributors to greenhouse emissions. One way to limit your emissions is to limit your family’s meat intake! You can go old school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or blend together a hearty fruit and vegetable smoothie to keep your children nourished throughout the day. While going completely vegetarian or vegan may not be for everyone, limiting your meat intake even by a little bit each day can help reduce your carbon footprint.
10. Ride a bike or walk.
Mornings are tough, and it’s tempting to drive to school and save those 10 minutes for extra snoozing. However, getting in the habit of riding a bike or walking, if possible, helps reduce carbon emissions. On college campuses and throughout major U.S. cities, bikeshare programs are becoming common, making it easier to get from A to B. Plus, getting up and moving is great for your health!