Back to School
Flickr / .Storm
We all know instilling good habits is easiest when we're young, so more and more parents and educators are working to make kids aware of the importance of caring for our planet. As kids get ready to return to school in the fall, here are some simple tips to encourage sustainable habits and support a healthy environment… and healthy kids!
- Start with the basics. Remind kids to turn off the lights in the bathroom or any unoccupied room at home and at school. Encourage them to throw away any trash they find on the school playground, tell them to use both sides of their notebook paper, and suggest that they save unused chalk and art supplies.
- Carpool. If you live somewhere where bus service isn’t provided, start a carpool and take turns with other parents in the neighborhood to drop off and pick up the kids. You’ll each save time, energy, and fuel. Visit Carpooltoschool.com for help! They offer secure school pool networking and coordination sites customized for public and private schools, and they provide a range of easy-to-use tools that make creating and maintaining carpools, walkpools and bikepools fun, easy and safe. (No excuses!)
- It might seem obvious, but check out your school’s recycling programs. Ask whether recycling bins are available and accessible -- and if the kids are encouraged to use them. Make sure your child knows what can be recycled and what can't.
- Re-use school supplies that are in good condition. When you’re in the middle of the back-to-school shopping frenzy, it's sometimes easy to forget about all those items you have at home that are still in good working condition. Binders, loose leaf paper, pencils and scissors are often only lightly used. Save money and resources by buying only what’s really needed! If you can’t re-use old products, donate them to your school or a local daycare.
- Keep children in touch with nature. After-school time used to involve catching fireflies, exploring the neighborhood woods, making mudpies, and just having a good time running around outside. This has changed dramatically in the digital age and children are less connected to nature, which can cause them to care less about its condition. Instead of plopping down in front of the T.V. or computer after school, encourage your kids get outside for an hour or two each day. Not much daylight left after the homework’s done? Take a family walk after dinner, devote your weekends to outdoor-only activities like biking and hiking, or start a nature club for your family. Studies have shown children who spend more time outside are less likely to suffer from obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder, and depression.
- Spread the word. Encourage your children to spread their environmental consciousness. They can suggest that their friends pack lunches too so that they can trade items or have a cool reusable lunch bag as well.