As the school year approaches, askHRgreen.org, the HRPDC’s environmental education and awareness program, wants to remind parents, students and teachers alike to keep thinking about reducing, reusing and recycling! Follow these simple and green back-to-school tips as you plan for the academic year ahead:
For Parents & Students:
- Take inventory. Before you hit the store for school supplies, take inventory of what you already have around the house: binders, pencil cases, supply boxes and backpacks. You might be surprised by what you can reuse from last school year.
- Close the loop. When you buy products made from recycled materials, you close the recycling loop. Notebook paper, pens/pencils, binders and even book bags can all be made from recycled materials. Look for these products when you shop.
- Pack a waste-free lunch: You don't have to pack green eggs and ham to send your child to school with a green lunch. Follow these quick tips for a waste-free lunch:
- Use meal/snack containers instead of plastic baggies
- Send flatware instead of disposable utensils
- Use refillable drink bottles instead of juice boxes and bottled water
- Eat locally. Buying locally-grown and locally-produced foods will reduce your carbon footprint with the added bonus of getting healthy foods into your child's tummy.
- Buy used and save. Consignment and thrift stores give clothes a second life and your wallet a break! Before you buy new, check out what's available at your local secondhand stores.
- Travel greener. While walking or biking to school is the greenest way to get to class, sending your child to school on the bus saves gas and puts less cars on the road, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions and improved air quality.
- Rethink your routines. Find creative ways to reuse paper and other supplies in the classroom. That old math test could become next week's origami art project! Take an extra five minutes at recess to have students do a campus clean-up.
- Make recycling easy and accessible. Have recycling receptacles readily available in the classroom and encourage their use. Assign a "recycling monitor" to be in charge of making sure recyclables don't end up in the trash.
- Take the askHRgreen.org pledge. Publicly commit your classroom to being green by taking the askHRgreen.org Classroom Pledge. A school recycling program gets everyone thinking, so have students sign this pledge that encourages them to be good green stewards at school and at home.
- Reward green behavior. Try implementing a "caught being green" award system to catch students in the act of reducing, reusing, and recycling and recognize them for their good stewardship
askHRgreen.org is a public awareness program of the 16 cities and counties of Hampton Roads administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC). Members include the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg; the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry and York; and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD).