Go green for back-to-school

The start of a new school year is the perfect time to talk to your kids about the importance of stepping up for sustainability and protecting the planet. Here are some tips for a happier, healthier and more eco-friendly year.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
Start the school year off right by reducing your household waste. Before shopping for new supplies, take stock of what you have and reuse what you can.

Partially filled notebooks, gently used school supplies, textbooks and old lunchboxes or backpacks might need to be cleaned but can be reused.

If purchasing products is a must, look for second-hand school supplies or clothing. If buying new, find products in minimal packaging and made from recycled materials that are durable enough to last for years. The longer you keep a product, the less impact it will have on the environment.

Pack a waste-free lunch
While single-serve snacks are convenient, the plastic packaging often can’t be recycled and is made from non-renewable fossil fuels – it goes from the garbage to a landfill and pollutes our environment. Instead, buy snacks in bulk quantities, store them at home in large containers and use reusable snack pouches or small containers when packing lunches.

At the grocery store, shop for lunch meats and other products from companies prioritizing eco-friendly initiatives. Look for protein options from carbon-neutral food companies like Maple Leaf Foods – the carbon zero logo can make it easier to identify food choices made by sustainable companies.

If your child or children purchase their lunch at school, minimize waste by sending them with reusable utensils, napkins and a water bottle. You can wash and use them again to avoid relying on single-use, disposable options.

Walk or bike to school
If your family lives close enough to your child’s school, consider walking or biking. It’s an active option that also relieves traffic congestion for students who live further away. Not to mention, it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

In the winter, try carpooling or opt for the school bus to reduce fuel emissions. If driving, don’t idle – do your part for the planet and make sure to turn off the engine while waiting in the pickup or drop-off lineup.

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