Environmentally Conscious Parent: Back to School edition

Eco-Friendly

Here are some of my zero waste Bento Boxes we use for our lunch snacks.

As a parent, I feel as if it is my duty to demonstrate eco-friendly practices for my kids to observe.

It is my job to be honest with my kids about the challenges facing our world in an age-appropriate manner. I have an obligation to teach them how to adopt eco-friendly habits they can continue in their own lives. It has made me more conscious of my purchases and the example I am to them. My goal is to raise kids who, not only, care about the future of the planet, but make choices that reflect that.

Due to my recent mindset shift, my first thought with every purchase is, “how much waste is this going to create.” Then I think, is there an alternative to this purchase that will result in less waste? I know that sounds exhausting, and honestly, it is at times. I’m not perfect, and I’m going to tell you right now that I don’t always make the eco-friendly choice. That’s just part of living in modern society, but I am always aware. So this school year, I wanted to devote some energy to greening up our back to school rituals. In the spirit of giving, here are some simple things you can consider while buying things your little ones will need throughout this school year.

  1. Purchase a reusable lunch box and water bottle for your kids to take to school. No need to use a disposable bag or plastic bottle each day. Think about it, there are 180 days of school. If you give your child a new disposable bag and water bottle every day, that’s 360 pieces of waste. If you are packing lunch for 2 kids, that’s 720 pieces of waste per school year. It doesn’t seem like much, but imagine a school full of families doing the same thing. A small school of 300 students can produce 108,000 pieces of trash just from a lunch bag, and water bottle each school year! It may seem like a tiny change but it can really make a difference.

  2. Try and limit the use of pre-packaged snacks and Ziploc bags in lunchboxes. As a mother of 3, I completely understand how convenient and time saving it can be to get the perfect serving size of chips, veggies, cookies, fruit snacks, you name it. We can just throw them in the lunch box and go. But what is the price we’re paying for that convenience? Instead, consider limiting pre-packaged snacks to only one per day. For the other snacks, using a zero waste alternative like Ecolunchbox or bento boxes for the snacks you would normally put in plastic bags.

  3. Do your clothing shopping at a thrift store. Your children can make the same style statement with gently used clothes. You would be surprised the gems you can find second hand. I recently went to a local thrift store and was able to purchase clothes that still had the original tags on them, for a fraction of the cost! Giving clothing a new life can save water, energy, and waste. Plus, thrifting is cool and trendy! Some of my most fashionable friends have a ton of vintage clothes in their closet. It’s a great way to have a one of a kind look while saving money. I highly recommend it.

  4. Participate in a carpool. Maybe you and some of your mom friends have kids attending the same school, or a group of parents at your school are putting one together. Or maybe neither of these things are happening and you decide to coordinate one on your own. Taking turns getting your kids to school can help relieve some of the pressures in your daily routine. I personally, don’t participate in this one. My daily commute is 40 miles. I love my school and I’m not leaving, I told you I wasn’t perfect.

  5. Purchase school supplies made from sustainable materials. This includes notebooks, binders, and agendas made from recycled or upcycled materials. Instead of purchasing plastic rulers and other geometric tools, purchase bamboo ones. Even your pencils can be more sustainable, with plantable ones and ones made from old newspapers. There are so many products to choose from.

  6. Talk to your kids about why its important to make greener choices. Ultimately, our children will inherit the Earth, explain to them now why its important to take care of it. You don’t have to tell them all of the scary details of climate change, or you can if you feel that’s appropriate. But help them grow up with greener habits, that won’t force them to have to make the lifestyle switches we have had to make due to our upbringings.

Basically, the best way to have a greener back to school season, or any season for that matter, is to be a conscious consumer. Less is more when it comes to clothes, shoes, and supplies. Only buy things your kids really need or would really want to wear. Look closely at what your buying. How was it made? Where is it coming from? Is it made out of plastic? Is there an alternative with lower waste? Can I buy this second hand? Say no to, “compostable,” plastic, it’s usually Being mindful of those things will help you steadily transition your mindset, the goods in your homes, and the environment around you for the better. Small changes really can go a long way. Together we can make a real impact.