4 School Year Resolutions for Going Green

Guest post by Jessica Brown

Back to school is the perfect time for making school year resolutions to go green. Habits developed in September can easily last throughout the year. By taking the time to discuss how our actions impact our planet with our children, we show them that it matters and instill eco-friendly values and a sense of responsibility that they can carry with them throughout their lifetime. Here are 4 achievable school year resolutions for going green this year from National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program:

Students at PS 29 in Brooklyn, NY have created a recycling station in their cafeteria to help with lunch waste!
Students at PS 29 in Brooklyn, NY have created a recycling station in their cafeteria to help with lunch waste! Photo Credit: PS 29 in Brooklyn, NY
Pack a Waste Free Lunch. Some reports estimate that the average child generates 67 pounds of waste per school year from packed lunches. You can reduce waste and save money by sending lunch in reusable containers (Kids Conserve has some great options), with cloth napkins and a reusable insulated lunch bag. Don’t forget about drinks! There are plenty of BPA free water bottles to choose from. Find one that works for you. To take it one step further, make sure your school has recycling receptacles in the lunch room and ask if they would be willing to start an organic waste collection site for making compost! Check out these tips for reducing waste in your school.

Make it Healthy. What you pack for lunch matters just as much as the container itself. Send your child to school with high quality, less processed, and more healthy foods to fuel their day such as plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. You may get more buy in when you let your child make some of their own choices. By offering a selection of fruits and vegetables and letting your child choose two or three, you are giving them the power to make their own smart choices. Better yet, grow your own produce in a home, school, or community garden! Encourage your school to do the same by providing healthy, local options in the school lunch line. Investigate the possibility of connecting with area farms and incorporating local food into your cafeteria. The Farm to School Network is a great resource.

Students at Paterson Academy in NJ grow their own healthy snacks!
Students at Paterson Academy in NJ grow their own healthy snacks! Photo credit: Paterson Academy for the Gifted and Talented in Paterson, NJ.
Use Recycled School Supplies. When filling and refilling those back packs, look for paper, pencils, binders, and other supplies with a high percentage of post-consumer waste content. Backpacks, totes, and other products made from recycled plastic bottles are eco-friendly, durable and double as a green fashion statement.   TerraCycle has some creative programs for recycling lunch waste at schools and sells bags made from upcycled materials. You can also extend the life of school papers that come home by using the backs. Keep the work you wish to save and put other worksheets, homework and fliers in an easily accessible bin to reuse for lists, notes, and craft projects.

Schedule Outdoor Free Time. Green up and slow down after school by making sure to “schedule” unscheduled free time outdoors. Studies show that time spent outdoors and active helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to become better stewards of the environment. Encourage your school to get outdoors for recess and consider holding a regularly scheduled class outdoors for a fresh change.

Want to know more? Ask your school to register with National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program. It’s free and easy and gives educators access to an abundance of free resources, tips, curriculum guidelines and best practices.

blog bio picJessica Brown is a Communications Consultant with National Wildlife Federations Eco-Schools USA program in New Jersey.  Jessica has over 10 years of experience in philanthropy and communications in the non-profit sector and with conservation organizations.  She enjoys hiking and learning how to garden with her kids.