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How To Have A Green School Year

August 8, 2018

By the time August rolls around, the back-to-school frenzy is in full swing at every department store. It's fun to stock up on brand new supplies, but now is a good time to remember that stores want you to buy everything you need, along with things you didn't even know you wanted until you got there. This time of year can be especially hard for first year college students who can't wait to buy everything they need to live independently.

Recycling is a big part of going green, but consuming less in the first place makes it so much easier. Whether your kids are off to grade school or their first year of college, there are many ways you can help them make environmentally smart choices when shopping for school supplies!

Tips For Grade School Students

With so many cute notebooks, folders and pencils it can be hard to say "no" when your kids bring armloads of supplies back to the cart. Here are a few tips to keep it simple:

  • Take stock of the supplies you already have and reuse supplies left over from the last school year. Kids might groan about this one, but if they have an empty notebook, or even a partially empty one, see if they can get more use out of it this year. The same goes for pencils and folders. If old supplies are completely unusable, now can be a good time to recycle them properly.
  • At the store, stick to the list of the teacher provides. Luckily, most grade school teachers will tell you everything students need for the school year. Unless there are great sales on bulk purchases, try to only buy what you need. If kids run out of supplies you can always go back later in the year to restock.
  • When choosing supplies, check out environmentally-friendly options such as notebooks made from recycled cardboard or backpacks made with natural fibers.
  • If your kids take lunch from home and usually use paper bags, consider upgrading to a reusable bag. Over the course of a school year, just imagine how much paper this can save! You can take it even further by using reusable containers instead of plastic baggies.
  • If your school allows your kids to have water bottles in class, skip the single-use bottles and buy a reusable one. Several materials are available, but it's probably a good idea to opt for stainless steel or BPA-free plastic rather than glass.

Tips For College Students

Whether your kids are living on campus, attending online classes, or commuting to tech school, there are lots of ways for them to make sustainable choices when shopping for college.

  • Teens can have a lot of fun shopping for college supplies since they're likely getting ready to live on their own for the first time. Even if your student is commuting to school from home, they might want to start living more independently. At the store, encourage them to be realistic about what they actually need rather than going overboard with the endless organization, bedding and decorating supplies department stores market to college students. 
  • Consider getting your student a nice set of dishes and cookware. Encourage your teen to cook in their dorm or eat in the dining hall rather than relying on pizza deliveries or take-out. Pizza boxes can't be recycled when they're greasy, and many take-out boxes are made of Styrofoam or other materials that can't readily be recycled.
  • Buy your teen a reusable coffee mug. Most campuses have a coffee shop on site or nearby, and using a mug all year can save countless paper cups from being used.  
  • Buy recycled printing paper, or paper from companies that support sustainable forestry. On top of that, encourage printing on both sides of the paper or utilizing online drop boxes or email if professors allow it.
  • To complete the cycle, don't throw out unneeded items at the end of the year. While some campuses don't allow you to throw electronics or furniture in the dumpsters, others might not care. Consider donating usable items rather than tossing them.

Consider A Vehicle Donation This August

Sending kids off to school – whether it's first grade or college – can be a huge transition for families. A family's transportation needs can change a lot during this time, and you may find that you have a vehicle you no longer need or that you'd like to upgrade. If you have an unwanted vehicle, please consider donating it to Wheels For Wishes benefiting your local chapter of Make-A-Wish.

To make a donation to Wheels For Wishes, please give us a call at 1-855-278-9474 or take a moment to fill out our online car donation form. Car donations are tax deductible and we provide free pick-up or towing. Better yet, your donation will help Make-A-Wish bring hope, strength and joy to a child in your community when they need it most. What could be better than that?

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Wheels for Wishes benefiting Make-A-Wish®, Wheels for Wishes & Wellness benefiting local children's hospitals and charities, Vehicles for Veterans benefiting disabled veterans, and Animal Car Donation benefiting animal rescue organizations.

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