For children, back-to-school shopping is a thrilling adventure. For parents, it can be an exhausting expedition. Regardless, each family will make at least one trip to pick up school supplies.
Looking for recyclable items is one way to reduce the environmental footprint of those annual shopping trips. Here are four tips, courtesy of Waste Management of Orange County, that can help make this school year your greenest yet.
“As North America’s largest residential recycler, we want to invite the community to join in our quest to conserve our natural resources by including a few green habits that can go a long way,” said Michelle Clark, community relations representative for Waste Management. “As natural resources become scarcer, the smallest action to increase recycling can have a positive impact on the environment.”
- Pack a lunch with reusable gear. Packing a lunch is a healthy habit for both you and the Earth. Eating out often means more calories, more money and more waste, whereas bringing lunch gives you an opportunity to use leftovers and save money. By utilizing reusable gear, like a cooler lunchbox or even just reusing a brown paper bag, you can save on waste. Be sure to recycle any packaging, such as bottles or cans, when you are finished.
- Purchase products made from recycled materials. Sure, we all need our papers, coffee mugs and printer ink, but all of these products are available with at least some recycled content. Bring your own environmentally friendly coffee mug, use recycled paper and refill ink cartridges instead of buying new ones. Not only does this save on resources, it also costs less. For instance, refilling ink cartridges can save up to 40 percent on the price.
- Use carpools or public transportation. While cars may be convenient, traffic and high gas prices certainly are not. Utilizing public transportation is not only cost-effective for money, it can also save you time. While on the bus or on the train, you can read, answer email or take calls—all things unsafe to do while driving. Other ways to get around include organizing a carpool with others on the same schedule, walking or biking. If doing these things regularly is not feasible, consider setting up a special event, such as a “Bike to Work Day,” to see if you can contribute at least once while encouraging others to try it as well.
- Turn off and unplug appliances when you are not using them. Computers, printers, fax machines and other wired devices save us time when we are using them, but can cost us money when we are not. In sleep mode—and even when they are off but plugged in—these appliances use power and add to your electricity bill. Help conserve energy and your bank account by turning off and unplugging these appliances when you are not using them.