School is starting for students throughout Hawaii, and now is a great time to think about what you can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle. In preparation for the back-to-school season, here are eight helpful tips to consider when going green this year.

Pack Waste-Free Lunches
It’s estimated that Americans go through 100 billion plastic bags a year – an average of 360 bags per person. When packing your keiki’s lunch, use reusable utensils and containers. There are even reusable wraps designed to reduce plastic and help keep your food fresh.

Encourage School Cafeterias to Buy Local
At the next PTA meeting, discuss buying local with other parents and connect with school administrators to bring local food to the cafeteria for sustainable and healthy lunches. Contact the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service for resources and information on farm-to-school programs.

Conserve Paper
Kids bring home a lot of papers from school! Before tossing it in the recycling, make sure to use both sides of the paper for scratch paper, drawings, or notes. Also, remind your family to only print when truly necessary. And if you must print, do it on 100% recycled paper, which is often cheaper than non-recycled paper.

Choose Sustainable School Supplies
In the United States, an estimated 11,600 incense-cedar trees are cut down to create the 2 billion pencils made each year. Seek out greener supplies like recycled or mechanical pencils, refillable pens, and paper clips made from steel.

“Upcycle” Last Yearʻs Supplies
You don’t need all new school supplies just because it’s a new school year. Often, backpacks, pencil boxes, and other supplies like scissors or rulers can be reused from last year without buying brand new.

Recycle Old Electronics
If you are upgrading your family’s electronics this year, be mindful and bring your old models to a recycling center.

Streamline Transportation
Consider forming a carpool with other families to reduce your carbon footprint when picking up and dropping off kids at school and after-school activities. When possible, encourage kids to walk or ride a bike to school.

Start a Conversation
Include your family in the conversation about why going green is good for them and the earth. It will be the first step towards them making greener and healthier choices.

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