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Go Back to School the Green Way
Green up your back-to-school routine

Heading back to school usually means rushing out to the store to purchase new school supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes, lunch accessories and classroom supplies. But, by taking a moment to review the tips below, you can go back to school the green way and earn an A+ from Mother Nature.

Home shopping

Before you head out the door with the school supplies list, go through your kid’s backpack from last year. Chances are the spirals are not completely used up, the binders are fine and just need to be cleared of last year’s work and some of the writing utensils are still stocked with usable ink and graphite. Assess the pair of scissors, pencil sharpener, pencil pouch or box to see if they could stand up to another school year. While you’re rifling through your kid’s backpack, survey the bag’s condition; if it’s still in good shape, it might be worth convincing your kid to carry it for another year, for the sake of the Earth.

Retail trail

Of course, some items barely make it through one school year, let alone two. Folders are usually trashed by the final bell, markers and glue sticks dry up and crayons break. It’s inevitable—you will need to buy some things new on the school supplies list, but try to find items made from sustainable or recycled materials.

“Look for notebooks made out of limestone call rock paper. After manufacturing, this material results in no trees felled, no waste, no water, no bleach and much less energy used than regular paper,” reports Matt Tomasino, writer for “There’s also non-toxic, recycled non-porous glue, manila folders made from 100 percent recycled fibers and repurposed bike tube pencil cases.”

If you failed to convince your child to carry his old backpack for another year, look for a bag or satchel that’s made of recycled fabric or organic cotton, advises Tomasino.

Lunch break

Packing a lunch for your child every day, or any day, can generate a lot of waste—all those plastic bags just get tossed and end up cluttering a landfill or the oceans. Instead, incorporate reusable materials to pack your child’s lunch and use a reusable lunch box or bag.

“Look for BPA, PVC and lead-free lunch containers in a variety of sizes that can replace the need for plastic bags each day. Switch-out disposable juice boxes or water bottles for toxin-free thermoses or camelbacks, and your child will be eating in green style,” advises writer Christina Dawn Morgan.

Fashion show

Back-to-school means it’s time to say goodbye to shorts and flip-flops and hello to more appropriate, often warmer, clothing. If new clothes are on the back-to-school shopping list, Morgan recommends looking for items made from “planet-friendly fabrics like organic cotton or hemp, repurposed or recycled materials.” Morgan also suggests making second-hand purchases; creativity can be ignited with a trip to a thrift store for a kid or mom who likes to find quality bargains or reinvent garments.

With these tips, you and your family will be able to start the school year off the right, smart and green way.

This article is presented by New Century BMW in Alhambra, California.

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