As the summer draws to a close and autumn begins to take its place, many students (and their parents) are preparing for the upcoming school year. Back-to-school season is a great time for fresh starts, or reuniting with old friends. It is also a perfect opportunity to start thinking green and begin making more sustainable choices. Here are just a few ways that you can make a difference this school year.

1. Walk, Bike, or Bus to School


The most environmentally friendly way to get to and from school is by using human power! If you live close enough to your school, consider walking or biking as an alternative to driving. If you live just half a mile away from school, you can avoid almost 100 miles of driving per year – that equals about 5 gallons of gas per person! Taking the bus can be a good option for those who live a bit further from school, but, if you absolutely must drive, arrange a carpool with other students in your area

 2. Think Outside the Lunch Box


Plastic bags are one of the most common and avoidable forms of lunch-time waste. In America alone, we use over 100 billion plastic bags per year. This year, opt for reusable bags and containers to pack your lunch. Additionally, plastic straws and utensils are extremely common items that we use every day, but they are wreaking havoc on our planet. Make a vow to stop using them today, and encourage your friends to do the same.

3. Recycle Your Old Electronics


Did you know that electronics waste is becoming such a large problem that it is now illegal to throw away electronics in New York? If you plan on upgrading any of your electronic devices, make sure to properly recycle your old ones. If your local recycling center does not accept electronics, consider using a Zero Waste Box for your recycling needs.

4. Recycle Your Old School Supplies


Before you go to buy new school supplies, take a minute to go through what you already have. Keep what you can reuse from the year before and recycle what you can’t. Recycle your old notebooks by removing the binding, and recycle your old binders by bringing them in to participating Office Depot and Office Max locations. They will even reward you with a coupon for a new one!

5. Choose Sustainable School Supplies


When shopping for new school supplies, consider the planet before making a purchase. Try to buy products with minimal plastic packaging, or packaging made from recycled materials. Every year, over 11,500 trees are cut down and made into pencils. One way we can reduce this number is by using refillable mechanical pencils instead of conventional wooden ones.

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