The long days of summer are waning and the season of learning is upon us – kids and parents alike. Getting ready for back to school is a great time to consider going green with all the new supplies, gear and clothing to purchase. But making consciously green choices the whole year through can have an even greater impact on the health of your family and the health of the environment.

Green Transportation

Twice daily, your child will be going to and from school, not counting any extracurricular activities and sports after school.

Did you know that only 10% of children walk or bike to school now? Even children that live within one mile of school, only 25% walk or bike. Teaching your child to go green and getting a little exercise is the best option for the whole family.

There is a culture of fear about letting our children walk to school alone, but statistics prove that it is still one of the safest ways to get to and from school. If you can’t walk with your young children, “walkpools” or “bicycle chains,” trading off chaperoning a walking or biking group with neighbors, is one way to ensure greater safety as well as a sense of community.

Another option for going green, both for the environment and safety, is to put your children on that big yellow bus. Did you know that a child is 13 times safer in a school bus than in a car?  According to the American School Bus Council, the total daily car mileage saved by students riding school buses is 346,666,660. The total annual car fuel COST savings by students riding school buses is $8,243,039,841. Those are staggering numbers.

Carpooling, at the least, will save on gas and carbon emissions. It saves parents time and is also a great way to get to know other families in the neighborhood better. According to the EPA, morning rush hour traffic increases by 30% because of parents driving their children to school. Carpooling is one solution to reduce that traffic.

Green Lunch

Going green and making eco-friendly choices at the beginning of the year when buying the lunch gear is important, but the daily choice of what to put into that lunch box for the entire school year is just as important.

The bento lunchboxes make it easy to try foods in small quantities. This allows for a lot less waste and a lot more options to try new and healthier choices. They also allow for some fun combinations.

Packing healthy and green choices are best, but keep in mind that packing food your child will actually eat is  going to reduce waste. Using leftovers is another great way to reduce waste. Experiment and find those healthy options your kids will love.

Green Paperwork

Forests are incredibly important as part of the global ecosystem. They create oxygen, absorb carbon, and provide life for wildlife and humans. Amazingly, even with the movement to recycle paper products, 26% of the world’s supply of forest has been used to make paper products. Americans use about 31.5 million tons of paper each year, which means 660 pounds per person. This requires 535 million trees and 12 billion gallons of oil for its manufacturing. That should give anyone pause about paper consumption.

You can’t always control the amount of paper that comes home from school, but recycling and using technology will eliminate a lot of the waste from extraneous paper. Minimize the paper coming home whenever possible by signing up for the e-newsletter from the school and encouraging communication from the teacher and school via email or phone. At home, use recycled paper and reuse anything that is possible.