Sustainability Tips: 10 ways to have a healthier, eco-friendly return to school

PlanetBox says, "Go back to school, sustainable style," offering premium food-grade stainless steel boxes, food-grade silicone for lids and accessories and 100% recycled polyester bags. Credit: PlanetBox

By Alliance Communications Coordinator Amy Durr

You can green going back to school whether you’re in college or have children. Small Footprint Family (SMF) points out an amazing number of great choices that avoid plastic and toxic chemicals while saving money. They ask a great question: So how do you combine school’s three R’s of readingwriting and ‘rithmetic with the planet’s three R’s of reducereuse, and recycle?

10 eco-friendly back-to-school tips from SMF:

1. Get new school clothes second hand — Set up a clothing swap, hit your favorite thrift store or check out ThreadUp.

2. Inventory supplies before buying more — Reduce your consumerism and avoid last-minute impulse purchases by making a list of what you really need before you go to the store.

3. Choose non-toxic and eco-friendly school supplies — Choose recycled pencils and markers, refillable or recycled pens, and 100% recycled, chlorine-free notebooks and printer paper, too.

4. Buy used textbooks — Used textbooks are often available from campus bookstores, eCampus and Amazon Textbook Rentals.

5. Pack lunch — Get tons of easy, healthy ideas for what to pack in your child’s lunchbox at and

6. Pack that lunch in a non-toxic lunch box and water bottle — Instead of plastic, try PlanetBox stainless steel lunch boxes and water bottles.  

7. Ditch toxic hand sanitizers — Choose a natural hand sanitizer like Babyganics, make your own with this easy recipe, or stick to good old-fashioned soap and water.

8. Green the school commute — If you live close to school, arrange a “walkpool” or a “walking bus,” where parents rotate chaperoning a group on foot (or bike) to and from school. Or set up a carpool with other parents.

9. Don’t idle your car in front of school — If you are going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds, it’s always best for you, others and the environment to turn off your engine.

10. Explain to your kids (or friends) why you’re making greener, healthier choices.

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