Whether we like it or not, summer has ended and it’s time for everyone to head back to school. It’s also a great time of year to get your household back into a routine and to introduce new habits. Here are some tips on how to make your routine more eco-friendly and how to sustain it throughout the year.

Come Prepared

  • Many times we purchase single-use items because of convenience. To cut back on waste, come prepared with your own reusable items. This includes mugs, bottles and straws for your drinks and cutlery for any meals. Many schools have water fountains in their hallways for their students and staff to use.

Litter Free Lunches

  • Lunchtime can produce a lot of excess waste, but there are ways to prevent that. Instead of packing lunches in single-use packaging (i.e. sandwich bags and cling wrap) put your food in reusable containers. There are lots of options for reusable containers, ranging from plastic to glass. For food that doesn’t need to be in a container, you can wrap it up in a beeswax food wrap! These may be a bit harder to find at stores, but there are lots of local makers who sell these at farmer’s markets and online. Check out our video with our local recycling superhero ‘Boss Lady’ Leanne Cater to see these wraps in action!
  • Try to make your lunches ‘litter-free.’ This means no extra packaging and food going into the garbage bin. Pack your lunch in a reusable bag instead of a paper one. The reusable bag can be used more than once, and is sturdier than a paper bag. Instead of buying snacks wrapped in plastic, buy snacks in bulk to cut back on excess packaging. Healthy snacks like nuts, granola and pretzels can be bought at your local grocery store in bulk.

Use What You Have

  • Before making a trip to the store to stock up on new supplies for the family, take a look around to see what items can be reused before being replaced. Most of the time, there are leftover items from last year that are still in good condition or weren’t used at all.
  • Instead of going to the mall and buying clothes brand new, why not take a trip to the second-hand store and buy used? You may be able to find some unique items that no one else will have!
  • If your family has outgrown old clothes or sports equipment, don’t forget to donate it to a local second-hand store or charity.

Green Transportation

  • If your child’s school is within walking distance, encourage them to spend some time outside and walk to school while the weather is still nice. Ask them to walk with a group of friends so there’s safety in numbers.
  • During the winter, or if your child’s school is too far away, ask around the neighbourhood to see if there is a carpool to save money on gas.
  • If you pick up your child from school turn off your vehicle while waiting. Idling your vehicle contributes harmful emissions to the atmosphere, while also wasting gas.

Be Proactive!

  • Familiarize yourself with what items can and can’t go into your blue bin. If your child is learning about recycling in school, being proactive about it in the home will help teach them as well. Visit the Recyclepedia or download a recycling guide to post on your fridge!
  • Start a compost for food scraps at home. Composting is a great way to give nutrients back into our gardens and give our food scraps a second purpose.
  • Does your child’s school have a recycling or a compost program in place? If not, ask their teachers if it’s possible to start one! Recycling happens in more places than just the home.
  • If your child has a passion for recycling and the environment, get them to participate in their school’s environmental team! If there isn’t one in place, encourage your kids to talk to their teachers and see if it’s possible to start one up!
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