Back to School 2021 is here... Let's make it a greener one!

Back to School 2021 is here... Let's make it a greener one!

And we are back! Back to school, that is!

Whether online or in-person, I have a few green back to school tips for you and your little green pupils.


Rethink, Reduce and Reuse 

Simple words yet so key when it comes to waste-reduction strategies.

To start reducing the amount of waste your household produces, consider what you already own and reuse what you have: partially-filled notebooks; school supplies or textbooks used by older siblings; old lunchboxes or backpacks that just need a bit of cleaning.

Shop around for second-hand school supplies, clothing, and textbooks and even check your local Freecycle group – such a powerful tool!

If you no longer want an item, donate it to people you know or bring it to refugee’s centres or women’s shelters where moms and kids are often found.


School Supplies

Organisation is key!

Make a list of what your child actually needs and opt for school supplies that use minimal packaging, are made from recycled and recyclable materials, and are durable enough to last for years.

I know it’s hard not to go for your child’s favourite character stamped on everything but instead of going for all-things unicorn or dinosaur, how about picking one thing that represents the theme and go for neutral, lower impact options for the rest?


Green Outfits

Your child can be well-dressed (and you can save a few quid too!) by choosing to go second-hand. Yes, for uniforms too!

The second had clothing market is booming here in Ireland, offering our children, regardless of age, an abundance of pre-owned clothing options, from online second-hand shops and social media platforms to high-end resale sites.

Try, and, my go-to websites for second-hand fashion for smallies.

Swap events with family and friends with children in the same school are always a great idea. It’s also worth having a look in local selling groups on Facebook.

I can already hear your pocket saying “Thank you, Pat!”… Aww, will ya stop? *wink wink*


Beep beep… Nah, not really.

How do you get to your child’s school? Start the new year on the right foot by walking or biking to school. Given the current health situation, walking to school, or in socially distanced groups, will likely be the safest option and help relieve congestion for those students who must rely on public transportation. Plus it’s extra great for that old step count device of yours!

In a world where Covid-19 isn’t a concern, school vans and carpooling with others are eco-friendly transportation modes that minimise greenhouse gas emissions, reducing air pollution.

If driving is a must, please turn the engine off while waiting in the pick-up or drop-off line. Car idling, even for a short period of time, is a major contributor to air pollution and can become costly with all that wasted fuel.


Waste-Free Lunchbox

Say no to clingfim, Ziploc bags and similar products. They are pretty impossible to wash and will most likely end up… well, you know where… Le Bin!

So, reuse is the word – from lunchboxes to water bottles.

Instead of relying on single-use disposable containers and bags, use reusable, long-lasting alternatives for cutlery, food containers, drinks, even straws.

Avoid the dreadful road of single-serve snack packs. I can understand that they’re convenient, but all that plastic packaging from individually-wrapped snack foods is made from non-renewable fossil fuels and can’t be recycled – think soft plastics!

They will be used for a few minutes before being tossed in the bin or left to pollute our environment.

My suggestion here is to give fruits, buns and snacks purchased in bulk a go. Our local package-free grocer, The Good Neighbour, stocks an incredible range of delicious and nutritious snacks such as dried fruit, nuts, cereal and these roasted BBQ broad beans by Irish business Blendi Snacks that are to-die-for.


But what to eat?

The key here is to reduce the carbon footprint of your food.

Haven’t heard of food carbon footprint before? Check Irish app Evocco to learn more.

In a nutshell, carbon footprint is the “mark” we leave on the environment in the form of greenhouse gas emissions associated with an activity, and is a significant contributor to climate change – such as, the food we eat.

Animal-based products carry a higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods.

So, by introducing more plant-based foods into your child’s school lunch you’ll be helping the planet and providing a nutritional meal for your little miss / mister.

Another way to help the planet with our food choices is through avoiding food waste. Food waste is a staggering problem and a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases! #letthatsinkin

Do your part to help reduce food waste by planning their meals, controlling portion sizes and safely storing uneaten food.


Activate Activism

Our youth will experience challenges we never had to face when we were their age. They are having conversations we never had to have at a young age.

And that’s because our generations (and a few generations before us!) didn’t do enough to protect our planet.

But now we are ready to lead by example and to model a green lifestyle for our young to emulate.

Through our words and every-day actions – whether it’s consistently leaving the house with your reusable bags or reading environmental books to our children – we’re helping them develop earth-friendly habits.


And it’ll only be a matter of time before your child will be telling you how to live an eco friendly life! Trust me, I have seen it happening innumerous times at my store, reuzi.

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