Back to School The Eco Friendly Way!

Thursday, 22 August 2019  |  Admin

Where did the summer go? It's almost time for back to school! From new uniforms, school supplies to backpacks and lunch boxes, there are a lot of things to be gathered and the amount of plastic and packaging that comes with it can be overwhelming. To make your little one’s return to (or even beginning of) school life as eco-friendly as possible, we have 4 handy tips for you.

1. Second Hand Uniforms and Books

The cost of uniforms can swallow a huge portion of your back to school fund. Especially when your school asks for unusual colours or crested jumpers and ties. However, most uniforms only fit for one school year and even though they are worn almost every day, they are kept in good condition. Getting some pieces of your child’s uniform second hand is a great way to save resources and money for new clothes. Books can also sometimes be sourced second hand through the school or local groups. It’s also a good idea to use paper to cover books instead of plastic film.  

Tip: Ask family and friends with children in the same school or have a look in local selling groups on Facebook

2. Reusables at Lunchtime

One of the easiest ways to ensure a more eco-friendly back to school routine is to swap any single-use plastics with reusable plastic-free options for your kid’s lunch. Clingfilm and Ziploc bags are soft plastics that are currently not recyclable in Ireland and therefore will end up in landfill.

Before you are starting to look at new reusable options though, use what you have and only replace it if it’s broken or all used up - even if that means using a water bottle and lunch box made of plastic or Ziploc bags for the next six months. The resources to make those products have already been spent, so you might as well get as much use out of them as possible!

Tip: Existing Ziploc bags or similar can be reused many times. They can even be cleaned in the dishwasher. Just place them inside out on the plate rack!

Sandwich Wraps and Snack Bags

The good news is there are many reusable options to choose from. If you like the convenience of clingfilm then beeswax wraps are perfect for you. With beeswax coated pieces of fabric are mouldable and stick to each other in order to keep sandwiches, fruit, and vegetable fresh. Stasher bags reusable sandwich bags are a great eco-friendly alternative to Ziploc bags. They are available in different sizes and colours to not just suit your needs, but also bring a bit of fun to your child’s snack time.

Lunch Boxes

If you are looking to invest in a new lunch box, a stainless steel one is certainly one of the most durable options available. The Elephant Box has a capacity of 1.8 litres and comes with a separate smaller container to keep sliced fruit or dipping sauces separate from the main compartment. If you want to offer many different food options in one packed lunch the Yumbox is your new best friend! With up to 6 separately sealed sections in just one box, your child enjoys a variety of fresh food every day. All without having to wrap things individually - and for picky eaters without the food touching each other. Its perfect for yogurt or humus or dips too as the individual compartments are sealed when closed so nothing leaks. Some of our customers have had theirs for over 4 years and they still look good as new – however in the unlikely event that the plastic latch on your Yumbox breaks, you can just replace the latch instead of replacing the entire lunch box!

Drink Bottles

In 2016 more than 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were sold worldwide. Most of them only used once. How scary is that? Even though the majority of those bottles are recyclable only about 10% are in fact recycled. The rest ends up in landfill or the ocean where it will take over 450 years to degrade. By adding a plastic-free reusable water bottle to your children’s school lunch you can help to bring this number down considerably. The bottles from the Klean Kanteen kids range are a firm favourite with many of our customers. Made from stainless steel, they are 100% food-safe, durable and thanks to a wide bottle neck, super easy to clean. The best thing: The bottle grows with your child! For younger kids choose the Sippy Cup Top and once they are ready you just replace that with the Sports Cap or the simple Loop Cap.

Tip: Opt for the insulated option to keep drinks cool/warm for the entire school day! Also, don’t be afraid to go straight for the 18oz bottle for primary school age and upwards as they will probably drink it all. My first class daughter is on the 27oz now so maybe even take the leap straight to that.

3. Walk to School

If you are living close to your school, you could make a habit of walking to and from school – weather permitting! This is a great way to reduce your carbon emission but has other benefits as well. A minimum of an hour of physical activity is recommended for children to stay healthy. Once school is back and afternoons are filled with homework and other school commitments it can be a challenge to meet this recommendation. The daily walk to and from school will positively impact your children’s physical and emotional health. A dose of fresh air before and after school helps to de-stress and calms as well as clears the mind. Older children who are able to walk independently will be able to wind down while chatting to their friends on the way home and develop more confidence as a road user. If you or your little ones are not keen walkers, cycling is a great option as well! (love this para!)

4. Get Your Kids Involved

Most of your efforts to create a more eco-friendly lifestyle are made better by getting your kids involved. This will not just educate them about the current climate crisis and the waste problem we are facing, but will also help to shape their way of life and a new normal for them and their generation. You can start by educating them about plastic and why it is so bad for our planet. There is no need to go into much detail. Young kids are keen on protecting the animals and plants around them so in most cases that is reason enough for them to be mindful of their use of plastic. Starting that conversation with your kids can open up an entirely new family dynamic, where your children are as conscious of the choices we can make as you are. In my case, this regularly results in my six year old making me aware of plastic packaging when grocery shopping or questioning the recyclability of different materials.

Plastic-free into a new school year:

The back to school list can be endless and ticking those items off can be overwhelming even without even considering a more eco-friendly way to this. However, thinking of our environment doesn’t always take an extra effort, it just simply means changing the way you look at things.

Luckily, eco-friendly back to school products like reusable water bottles and lunch boxes are widely available these days to make it easier than ever to take a green approach for the next school year!

 

Earthmother - Eco Living Naturally
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