With back-to-school shopping, changing schedules and preparing kids for the upcoming school year, your family’s environmental impact may be the last thing on your mind
It is possible to have a greener back-to-school season. Here are seven simple things parents and children can do to care for the environment – and themselves – as they return to school.
1. Reuse and recycle notebooks. While high schoolers may go through multiple notebooks per subject every year, it’s rare for elementary school-aged kids to use up their notebooks. Tear out used pages (and recycle them, of course) from last year’s notebooks so that kids can use the remaining blank pages. Use contact paper to freshen and reinforce covers that are worn or written on.
2. Give broken and worn down crayons new life. Gather all the bits and separate by color. Remove all papers. Using a mini-muffin pan (or mini ramekins in fun shapes), fill each cup with crayon pieces in one color. Melt in an oven set at 350 degrees just until crayons are completely melted. Cool at room temperature, then freeze for 30 minutes to make it easier to remove the newly formed crayons.
3. Refresh smelly shoes naturally. Stinky gym bags and tennis shoes don’t have to be a reality for your athletic child, and you don’t have to resort to chemicals to kill odor. You can create a natural deodorizing spray with essential oils. Simply mix 12 to 16 drops of lemon oil, six drops of red thyme oil and 2 drops of patchouli oil and 4 ounces of water in a misting bottle. Shake vigorously and mist inside gym bags and shoes. The formula not only kills odors, it adds an energizing, refreshing aroma.
4. Look for ways to green your commute to school. If you live close to school, consider walking or biking. Families with longer commutes may consider carpooling or using the school bus.
5. Green lunches by packing them in reusable lunch bags (no brown bags or plastic baggies, please). Pack sandwiches in reusable sandwich containers, and use bento-style boxes with multiple compartments to hold snacks, veggies and other sides. Replace plastic water bottles with reusable bottles – plenty of fun, colorful options are available.
6. Energize naturally. Do your kids grab a sugary soft drink or sweet snack to boost their awareness while doing homework? Instead of relying on unhealthy treats for an energy boost that will come with a crash afterward, energize homework time with an essential oil diffusion. Aura Cacia offers this mood-boosting blend:
10 drops peppermint essential oil
3 drops eucalyptus essential oil
2 drops ginger essential oil
3 drops sweet orange essential oil
Combine all oils in a mister bottle and spritz in the air around your child’s work space. To give kids a boost during the school day, soak a cotton ball in the essential oils blend, slip it into a reusable plastic container and place in your child’s book bag. Whenever he needs a burst of energy during the day, he can open it and take a quick whiff.
7. Lighten up your electricity use and carbon footprint. Get kids involved in a fun weekend project by replacing incandescent bulbs throughout the house with energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs. These bulbs give off the same amount of light for back-to-school tasks like homework or picking out a first-day outfit, but use about 80 percent less electricity and can last for eight or more years before needing replacement.