Seven Habits of Green Kids at School

By Maureen Wise in Thinking Sustainably

When you see your kids out the door every morning, know there are plenty of opportunities for them to make eco-friendly choices at school when you’re not around. Green kids grow up into green adults, after all, and it starts with you. Here’s how to help your children create Earth-friendly habits every time they head into class.

Green School Supplies

When shopping for school supplies, see how many items you can find that can be reused or are made from recycled materials. Opt for 100-percent recycled paper, bamboo rulers (more common than you think), pencils made from reused newspaper, calculators produced from corn-based plastic, refillable calendars, or non-toxic glue—which isn’t harmful to the environment when disposed of. Your kids will love having a distinct set of supplies, too.

The Green Lunch

Make an effort to pack a “zero waste” lunch. That means starting with a reusable lunch bag as well as ditching single-serving, prepackaged goodies to reduce how much your kids throw away. Slip in a cloth napkin and silverware for them to tote home instead of tossing a paper napkin and plastic utensils in the trash. Pack food—including all their lunchtime favorites, like sandwiches and crackers—in reusable containers such as bento boxes, tins, reusable baggies, mason jars, or any other dividers you may already have in the kitchen.

Tote Drinks Too

Remember to pack water or juice in a reusable bottle for lunch, recess, and any breaks they may have between class. A custom bottle is not only more fun than a store-bought bottle, but it produces less waste and can insulate hot items as well.

Recycle Like a Master

Recycling at school is just as important as recycling at home. Remind your youngsters to do so just as they would with you around. This includes paper waste while in class and leavings from lunch, such as drink cans or bottles the lunchroom provided them. Many schools also have special milk carton recycling in the cafeteria. Always encourage them to ask a teacher where these recycling outlets are.

Use People Power

Instead of riding an elevator, which their school may have, tell your kids to take the stairs when changing one or two floors—as long as they’re physically able to. Similarly, they shouldn’t push the handicapped button unless necessary to open an exterior door. Riding a bike or walking to school is also better than you driving them, as long as they’re close enough. Going out of your way on your commute to drop them off is simply a waste of time and gas. For safety, though, create a special pickup spot a few blocks away only your family knows about. Riding the bus is a good option too, of course, as mass transportation helps reduce cars on the road.

Extracurricular Environment

They say friends are a child’s biggest influences growing up. Encourage your kids to hang out with other “green kids” outside of school. For example, they can join a student environment club or get one started themselves if they can’t be left alone until you’re done with work. Students can also go green with friends by making their existing clubs and groups Earth-friendly. How? Drama clubs often try using less lighting, while the school newspaper may be trying to use recycled paper. The soccer team may even use reusable water bottles and containers for post-game recovery food.

Influence the Institution

Help your kids talk to their school administrators to make green purchases such as eco-friendly cleaners, recycled printer paper, and LED lighting. Other smart, green ideas include conducting a waste audit of the school, serving local food in the cafeteria, or starting to compost food.

What other habits do you encourage your green kids to do at school? Tell us on Twitter!

Image source: Flickr

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Your family can practice a green lifestyle outside of the house—even in class. Empower your children to be green kids, not only at home, but at school by switching up routines, lunches, and supplies. These steps are easy and may even get your kids more involved and excited about their academics and extracurriculars.