Back to school guide: The sustainable way!

Today’s blog post comes from our super-star environmental educator Monica Rosquillas!  Monica’s parents are hoping she will someday use all those leftover Trapper-Keepers from junior high… monica

Thousands of San Diego students are getting ready to go back to school. Here are a few tips to do it the green way!

Reduce your daily lunchprint by following these tips:

• If you don’t yet own a reusable water bottle, get one, and make sure to use it! You can significantly reduce the amount of disposable water bottles you toss out just by drinking from your reusable water bottle every day. And it saves you money. Do the math! But take care of it, I’ve personally seen too many reusable water bottles in the lost and found; write your name or initials on the bottle to avoid losing it and creating more waste.

Some great alternatives to plastic bottles and bags.
Some great alternatives to plastic bottles and bags.

• Pack a lunch, but think twice before you put your sandwich, cookies, veggies, and other snacks in disposable plastic baggies. Those bags are likely to end up in the trash can, they don’t get recycled. If you throw out 2 bags a school day, that’s 10 bags every week, in a month that’s 40 bags, and in a year that’s a whopping 480 bags, they add up quickly! Save money and avoid making so much trash by switching to REUSABLE sandwich and snack bags. Plus, they are super cool-looking, you’ll impress your friends, and they are widely available.

• Don’t bag your fruit. Fruits come in their own compostable packaging, it’s not necessary to put your banana, orange, or apple in a plastic bag. Sure, it’s more appetizing to eat your already sliced apple out of a bag, but think about all the trash you’re making. If you want to pre-peel or pre-slice your fruit, that’s not a problem, it’s just another opportunity to use your reusable snack bags.

Fruit comes pre-packaged, naturally! No need for plastic bags.

More green tips!

• Be cool and carpool. Also, if you live close to your school, consider walking, skating, or riding your bike to school.

• Shop smart. I remember getting really excited about the new school year, I always wanted to start the year organized, and with brand new, cool materials, but I ended up buying supplies that I did not need. At my parent’s house there are still drawers full of markers, pens, colored pencils, rulers, notepads etc. that I accumulated throughout my education. So, before going out to buy new school supplies make a list of what you really need, this way you can avoid buying what you don’t. If you have any supplies at home that you won’t use, consider donating them to your school or an after school program. Also: Don’t forget your reusable bags when back-to-school shopping. Already do all the above and want to do more? Here are some tips for the A+ Environmentalists

• Start an organic gardening and composting program at your school.

• How well does your school recycle? If you think more can be done, talk with your teachers and principal about improving recycling at your school.

• Start an environmental club at your school. You can participate in clean-ups and organize recycling events to fundraise for your club or school.

• Help spread the word. Schedule a FREE environmental presentation from ILACSD for your school.