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New School Rules

Eco Strategies for Back-to-School Prep

ET_0814_Back-to-School_2Families preparing for the coming school year will welcome easy ways to stretch the budget while protecting the environment our kids are growing up in.

* Buying new clothes can be expensive, and most of today’s synthetic fibers are petroleum-based, while toxic pesticides are used to grow cotton. For healthier alternatives, check labels for clothes made from organic, low-impact or recycled materials such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo or recycled fibers. Inexpensive options are found in Salvation Army and other thrift store locations, as well as re-purposing hand-me-downs among siblings.

*Avoid buying all new school supplies. Gently used binders and book bags can last years. Sturdy, simple backpacks skip the cost of faddish brand-name and celebrity products. For supplies that must be replenished, like paper, seek out post-consumer-recycled options.

*For lunch boxes, food containers and utensils, look for retro metal, a cloth bag and other alternatives to plastic (which can contain harmful chemicals) and glass (which can break). Beth Terry, in her book, Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too (MyPlasticFreeLife.com), suggests searching MightyNest.com and LifeWithoutPlastic.com, makers of stainless steel, naturally lacquered wood and other non-plastic, durable children’s bowls, cups, plates and utensils.

*Healthy after-school extracurricular activities today typically require driving commutes. Look into carpooling with nearby families to save time and gas, cut vehicle emissions and expand friendships.

*Check the school’s eco-practices. GreenGoesSimple.com suggests encouraging local administrators to conduct recycling programs and to email documents to parents instead of using regular mail.

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