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For the past couple of years, I have been trying to switch my sons’ school supplies to more eco-friendly options. Each year, however, we get very specific lists that derail my efforts.

While I would love to send back the 60 unused pages of their 80 page spiral notebook, sometimes it’s just not feasible. I do reuse whatever supplies I can for homework, projects, or crafts at home. One thing I find much easier to control is the single-use plastic items that I used to include in their packed lunches.

If you’re like me and trying to have a greener school year, here are some great suggestions to reduce your student’s carbon footprint one sandwich or snack at a time. 

blue bento box with dinosaurs
via Amazon

Bento boxes: My kids are still carrying the same backpacks and lunchboxes we bought in 2019. Between the fact that they’re only in early elementary and that they were home for much of 2020, these items are definitely getting reused.

One thing I am doing is making the switch to bento boxes. This one that fits perfectly into their lunchboxes. This model comes in plastic and stainless steel, so you have different options. Here is another great choice from Amazon that comes in various sizes. If you’re open to the splurge, the Planetbox is the bento of choice from one of my greenest friends! With so many options, this is one of the simplest switches to make. It also reduces paper bag usage and waste.

Reusable bags: Perfect for snack time and useful for after school or pre/post practice food on the go, these reusable bags are dishwasher safe and made of food grade silicone so you and feel good about using them over and over again. So many of their favorite snacks typically come in single-use packaging! Reusable bags are another easy way to eliminate waste in your kiddo’s lunch. You can find all different sizes, colors, designs…the options seem unlimited. Reduce your plastic use daily with these bags.

reusable water bottles in varying colors
via Amazon

Water bottles: According to the Container Recycling Institute, more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away in the United States every day, and that’s an old statistic! The most recent EPA information from 2018 states that landfills received 27 million tons of plastic. Thank about that. If you replace nothing else this year, make the swap from a plastic water bottle to a refillable bottle and reduce the number of plastic bottles in circulation.

As COVID has shut down many water fountains, it’s difficult to make sure your child has enough water to get through a whole school day, let alone recess and PE. Try this great option for a kid-sized water supply, or this one if your little one still prefers a straw. You can also elect to buy a washable splash guard that keeps your kiddo from getting drenched with every sip if a larger, wide mouth water bottle is your preference. 

Whatever your child’s supply list includes this year, I encourage you to consider some more environmentally friendly options.

Not only will they help our planet, but they might even help your wallet. It may feel like an investment initially. But you’ll be glad you spent the money on reusable alternatives this back-to-school season when you do not need to replenish your water bottle or plastic baggie supply!

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