In school, your children are surrounded by other kids and that means peer pressure. They want the latest clothes, music, school supplies and electronic gadgets. But there are ways to give your offspring everything they require while minimizing the hurt they put on the Earth. And, as a bonus, going green is good to your wallet. Here are ten tips for greening your school-age bunch.  

  1. Ha ve your children walk to school (if it’s safe and not too far) or take public transportation, if available. If not, organize a carpool so one parent—on a rotating basis—takes all of the neighborhood kids to school and collects them from after-school activities.
  2. Buy only the school supplies your children truly need and always choose items with the least packaging (less for the landfills).
  3. Avoid battery-powered school devices. If required (e.g., a calculator), buy one that uses rechargeable batteries—or better yet, buy a solar-powered one.
  4. For lunch, choose local produce (less energy to transport) and organic (no pesticides and herbicides to pollute the environment). Go vegetarian or vegan whenever possible; meat has an extremely negative environmental impact.
  5. Buy food in bulk and divide it yourself into individual servings. Buying prepackaged snacks costs more, pollutes more and creates more landfill waste.
  6. When packing lunch, place food in reusable plastic containers instead of disposable plastic baggies. And have your kids carry their lunches to school in cotton canvas reusable lunch sacks instead of paper bags. Or try a lunch packer made from recycled plastic.
  7. Don''t buy individual-serving bottles of water or juice. Buy a Sigg kids'' reusable water bottle and fill it with juice or water. Water from the tap, filtered if you like, is best. Bottled water has a large carbon footprint thanks to the distance it must travel to reach you.
  8. Buy TerraCycle school supplies made of recycled materials, including post-consumer-waste paper, plastic and used juice containers.
  9. Buy Papermate''s Earthwrite pencils made from 100% post-consumer waste. Use refillable pens with ink refills, not disposable ones. And always use loose-leaf folders, not spiral notebooks.
  10. When you go shopping for the above, use public transportation, carpool or do it all in one trip. And plan your route so that you travel the least distance possible.

Remember to discuss the reasons you are making the above choices with your children. These talks can provide many great teaching moments about ecology, conspicuous consumption and peer pressure. And remember: actions speak louder than words. It’s important that you practice what you preach when it comes to environmentalism. For example, it’s not going to be very effective to tell your kids they have to take the bus instead of your driving them to school if you shun public transportation in your daily activities. Not coincidentally, most of the above tips will help you green yourself as well.

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