Back to school the eco-cool way

Ah, autumn - the chill will soon be in the air (we hope) and the kiddos scampering back to class. It's the time when parents around the country push their credit limits to the max on back-to-school supplies. Yet, most don't think about the environmental impact of all that paper, not to mention the non-recyclable plastics that end up in gyres in the ocean. New York City-based
Recyclebank offers some tips to change parents' and guardians' behavior when it comes to back-to-school waste: 1. Raid last year's gear. Revisit last year's inventory and start patching up old backpacks, sharpening scissors, cleaning glue bottles of any dried residue, and testing all of the writing utensils you already own so you can avoid buying new ones. 2. Host a back-to-school swap party. Last year's backpack might not be exciting for your kids, but if they're given the chance to change it up and use one that's new to them, they might be more inclined to reuse! The same goes for any clothes, especially ones that are still in great shape but have just been grown out of. And don't forget that after-school activity supplies can also be swapped, from sports gear to instruments. 3. Buy lasting supplies. If last year's stuff doesn't make the cut, take this chance to plan for years ahead. Opt for durable backpacks, refillable pens, and mechanical pencils, so that when next year rolls around, you're already prepared, and nothing goes to waste. 4. Buy school supplies in bulk. For less reusable supplies (think paper, notebooks), some schools allow you to pool your money and order all together, which can cut down on packaging waste. 5. Reuse paper from years past. It's important to save those A book reports, but for those less-important papers, try repurposing them into a new book for scrap paper. Now, go out and enjoy the rest of the summer, kids! Caption: First day of 1st grade at a school in Germany; photo via Wikimedia Commons, photographer: Immanuel Giel 09:22, 29 September 2005 (UTC)


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