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  • Regina Wang

Environmentally Friendly Back-to-School Season

Back to school shopping seems to be such a ritual each year. So much money is spent by every family for supplies and clothes that kids need for the new year. However, these practices can often impact the environment negatively. There are ways to prepare for the school year without being unhealthy to the environment, and they can also help avoid overspending.

First, clothes can be bought secondhand. Fashion already is a detrimental industry to the planet, due to its use of GMO crops, toxic dyes, and other factors that contribute to environmental degradation. Clothes can either be swapped with friends or bought from flea markets and thrift shops. This will often cost less in the end, as well. Supplies bought should be non-toxic, such as PVC-free binders and recycled pencils, pens, markers, and paper.

As much as kids love to stock up on every supply on their school’s list, it is important to check what they may already have left over from previous years. Notebooks may not yet be completely used, and binders may still be in good condition. Take note of the supplies already in the household before buying new ones. Only focus on what is really needed, and it will also result in less money spent!

Plastic is a major polluter. Lunchboxes and water bottles made of plastic often do not last long, and tend to contain unhealthy materials, possibly even lead. Instead, students should use stainless steel containers for food and drinks, which last longer, and are easier to wash. Along with those containers, packing a lunch reduces the amount of waste from school lunches and is healthier for students. Each year, there are over 20 thousand pounds of lunch waste. By packing lunch, students can get a more nutritious meal than processed and packaged lunches served by schools. Planning their lunches with parents will also avoid them eating food they don’t like.

Finally, find less polluting ways to travel to school. If students live in areas with no buses, encouraging them to walk or bike to school can help them get exercise while reducing emissions and the amount of gas used. For those who need cars, carpooling can also be more environmentally friendly, reducing gas and smog. Smog can also be emitted by cars idling in front of schools. Large clouds of smog can be walked into by students, contributing to more sickness. Avoiding having vehicles idling by the school can reduce pollution and contribution to illness.

Several changes in lifestyle can be made to make not only the planet healthier, but also to make students healthier. If more families implement these changes, back to school season can become less detrimental to the environment.

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