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This School Year, Start Out Strong By Going Green

Back to School time is upon us; the days are getting shorter and a sort of anxious anticipation is setting in among both parents and schoolchildren of all ages. The question is: how to incorporate all that we know about the importance of going green into our back to school shopping urges? All of us know the benefits of going green: saving the environment for future generations, preserving valuable finite resources and ensuring the ultimate sustainability of life on earth as we know it. However, sometimes it’s a little more difficult to figure out a prudent and cost-effective approach to going green in our everyday lives. The following are a couple of easy tips to get you started on living a green lifestyle as the new school year starts.

Dress for Success - Back to school time is a great opportunity to "start fresh."  However, oftentimes we bite off more than we can chew and fall into our same old habits.  So first of all, don’t set up unrealistic goals. As with any life transition, big steps do not often become long term habits. Take small steps to be more eco-conscious and set goals that are achievable throughout the year. The trick is to integrate greener living into your everyday life without throwing your routine out the window. 

Use Your Shoes - Imagine the time, money and emissions you’ll save if you stop driving your child the short distance to school every day. Not only does starting and stopping a car emit toxic chemicals into our ecosystem but it also takes up a valuable portion of a parent’s morning.  Instigating a chaperoned (if necessary) walk to school, if terrain and safety considerations permit, will save a lot of hassel while simultaneously preserving the environment. Or children can easily bike longer distances and get some exercise along the way. If driving is a necessity, organize a neighborhood carpool to lighten the load both on you and on the environment. And lastly, even though school buses only get about a mile per gallon, they still transport 60-70 youngsters per trip, making them an environmentally sound decision.

Practice What You Preach - If you are eco-conscious at home, most likely that behavior will transfer on to your children. Encourage the kids to stay environmentally aware during school time by recycling all used plastic bottles and reusing paper wherever possible. If no recycling program exists at their school, help your child initiate one. Not only will it get the child involved but it could also be a great opportunity to bond. Remember, the more hands-on and memorable the experience, the more likely it will become an ingrained habit later in life.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue - OK, so maybe the last one doesn’t work, but it’s still a good mantra apply back to school shopping. Before you do any shopping, make a list of the things you absolutely need, then double check to make sure you don’t already have them lying around somewhere. Revamp old binders and backpacks with stickers, pictures or patches and don’t forget to clean out the closet - having clothing swaps with family and friends is a great way to get “new” clothes without shelling out any cash.

Remember, buying new things for back to school is inevitable. However, now that going green has become not only socially important but fashionable too, big name brands have started embracing the trend. Most school supply companies produce eco-friendly products and countless websites exhibit everything from green pens and pencils, to bamboo clothing and solar powered backpacks. Just be conscious about what and how much you are buying and beware of misleading labels and excessive packaging. If we all start making little changes in our everyday lives, big repercussions are on their way.

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