My daughter Hannah is starting kindergarten in a few weeks. I am currently doing my summary best to ignore this fact. For now, that’s working for me. So, hooray for that! Eventually, I will be able to ignore the reality no longer. And there are a whole lot of things that I will have to consider and make decisions about. Whenever I come out of denial.
One of the things that I will be considering is the environmental impact of Hannah’s school experience. When we attended the orientation night, there were sculptures that the children had made out of their recyclables lining the hallways. The sculptures were lovely, and I loved that they were emphasizing recycling in the first place. But a lot of the recyclables were items like empty juice boxes and plastic water bottles. I couldn’t help but think it would be better to avoid these items in the first place.
Since this is my first experience with public education as a parent, I don’t have a lot of actual knowledge about how schools can reduce their environmental impact. But I do have a few thoughts on how I am going to try to reduce my family’s environmental impact as Hannah enters kindergarten. Here are my ideas:
1. Green the lunchbox. I will pack items in re-usable containers, and send along re-usable cutlery and a stainless steel water bottle. At home, I buy the biggest food package we can reasonably use, or avoid packaging altogether, and reduce the amount of waste that is produced with Hannah’s snacks and lunches. I am also starting to phase out plastic, in favour of glass and stainless steel containers, to avoid any possible concerns associated with storing food in plastic.
2. Green the trip to and from school. Hannah’s daycare was approximately 3.5 km from our house, which is a little far to walk twice a day with a toddler and a 5-year-old in tow. Luckily, Hannah’s school is much, much closer. I plan to walk to school and back each day. It means two round trips, including a big hill, for me, 5 days a week. Not only is it carbon-neutral, but it might be good for me, too.
3. Green the school supplies. I admit, I haven’t been that proactive about this one. Hannah’s school gave me the option of paying them, and then they arrange school supply purchase and delivery through a private company. Luckily, most of the items on Hannah’s list are pretty basic – exercise books, pencils, crayons, erasers. In the future, though, I think I will take the list and do my own shopping, so I can opt for more sustainable supplies, with less packaging and a lower carbon footprint.
4. Green the back-to-school wardrobe. There are a lot of options now for fun and sustainable kids’ clothing. Companies opt for alternative fibers, organic cotton, and non-toxic dyes. And, of course, buying second-hand is always environmentally friendly. And, really, who wants to step into the back-to-school frenzy at the local mall, anyway? Not me.
So, tell me, experienced parents of school aged children. Do you think that public schools are as green as they can be? And how do you reduce the environmental impact of back-to-school time? I’d love to know!
I was inspired to write this post for the Green Moms Carnival, which is being hosted by the lovely Micaela at Mindful Momma this month. If you want more ideas on greening back-to-school, check it out on August 30!