Top 10 better back-to-school tips

By Tovah Paglaro, David Suzuki’s Queen of Green

Photo: Top 10 better back-to-school tips

There’s nothing green about a flurry of purchases made in a frantic dash to fill school supply lists amidst tempting sales and a looming September deadline.

To help us all do better, savvy eco-bloggers and expert parents have joined me for a month-long Better Back to School Brigade — offering tips, resources and amazing giveaways.

Here’s our community’s top 10 tips for setting green back-to-school habits that last all year:

1. Waste-free lunches: Litterless lunches also use more fresh foods and less refined sugar. The first step: the right gear. Check out Adria Vasil’s (The Ecoholic) waste-free ways to eat on the go. And enter this week’s Better Back To School Brigade giveaway — more than $200 worth from Planet Box, Abeego, Raspberry Kids and Today I Ate a Rainbow.

2. Eat a rainbow: Each colour group of fruits and vegetables is packed with a unique set of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Eat at least five colours a day! Choose organic as much as possible — the EWG’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen can help you prioritize.

3. Non-toxic backpack: A recent CHEJ study revealed that many vinyl back‐to‐school supplies — including backpacks — contain elevated levels of phthalates and may also contain lead. Lori Alper (Groovy Green Living) has great non-toxic alternatives.

4. Reduce, reuse and only then recycle: Buy less. Buy used. Buy recycled (or otherwise greener) options. Sources like Craigslist, Kijiji or Used Ottawa are great for everything from clothing to text books to big ticket items like bikes and desks.

5. Walk to school: 30×30 Nature Challenge followers know that spending time outdoors increases well-being and concentration! Amber Strocel shares other unexpected benefits of walking in her suburban neighbourhood.

6. Establish a good sleep routine two weeks before school starts: That means, um, now! The Green Mom’s Collective suggests we reign in summer patterns by making bedtime 15 minutes earlier every few nights. How is this green? Well-rested kids are more likely to get up in time to walk!

7. Kick chemical cleaners: Contact your school’s Parent Teacher Association to speak out in favour of safer alternatives. In Green Child magazine, children’s environmental health advocate Janelle Sorensen said Green Seal products are approved for a school’s unique needs. The Ontario School Board encourages the use of either Green Seal or EcoLogo products.

8. Choose non-toxic cosmetics: If you’re detoxifying their lunch box and backpack, make sure to also choose safer nail polish and skin care by avoiding the dirty dozen.

9. Choose FSC-certified paper products: It’s increasingly simple to find green school supplies, including FSC-certified pencils and paper. Electronic purchases aren’t off the hook either. The EnviroDad reminds us to do the research and choose green!

10. Connect with nature: Get back to school. And get back outside. Share Connecting with Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation’s educational guide with your community to inspire education that fosters connection with nature.

Start your better back-to-school year by entering to win a $200 waste-free lunch giveaway — check out what you can win! What else will you do to make the school year green?

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