Summer is starting to wind down, which means back to school season is soon approaching. This is an exciting time for students shuffling back to the classroom—but even more so, it’s a critical time for the environment and our planet. Impact created by back to school shopping is rapidly on the rise.

Each year an estimated two billion pencils are used in the U.S.; which represents about 82,000 trees cut for pencils alone. With school supplies in full demand, many of us are prepping to get ready for the new term. The challenge—can we do it in a sustainable manner? Here are a few ways to start the academic year off on a greener note.

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Shop smart, shop efficient

Each year teachers send out lists of school supplies needed to use in the classroom. Today, there are countless environmentally friendly options to replace the items that are normally recognized in the average back to school sale. They range from lunch boxes, eco-friendly water bottles, bag packs, non-toxic ice packs, glue, recycled notebooks, and recycled writing utensils. Even reprocessed pencils can be made of recycled newspaper. When in doubt, make the greener choice.  Renting or buying used textbooks is also becoming a popular option that helps students save and helps the environment by having fewer books produced.

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Healthy and organic food

Packing lunch during the back to school season can be challenging. School mornings can be hectic and fast paced, encouraging us all to reach for prepackaged snacks with high salt and sugar content. According to EcoLunchBoxes.com, “if your family is using single-use, disposable items like brown paper bags, plastic baggies and pre-packaged drinks to pack lunch, you’re probably wasting about $450 a year.”  Opt-in for eco-friendly snacks and packaging for your student’s school day. Instead of using carton juice boxes, try using reusable water bottles and food containers to pack no-waste lunches instead.

 

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Reuse, Recycle, Impress!

Everyone wants to look their best on the first day of class. You can achieve that goal without purchasing brand new clothes and being environmentally aware. An estimated $76 billion was spent on new school supplies last year, including apparel. According to SmallFootPrintFamly.com, “a great way to get new school clothes for free is to organize a clothing swap with family, friends or neighbors.” If you can’t find a community clothing swap in your local area—flea markets, consignment shops and thrift stores also embody the sustainable principle of “reuse.” If you choose to buy one or two pieces of clothing for the new school year, consider purchasing clothing that has been made with organic cotton. Organic crops used to make fabric aren’t treated with pesticides, which are normally toxic and harmful for farmers and workers. Organic fabrics like cotton also use less water during the wash cycle, making it easier to consume less energy on laundry days.

 

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Responsible technology usage

Today, the use of personal computers in school is a necessity and more schools have incorporated the use of technology in the classroom. However, it is our responsibility to make sure our students are creating smart habits with their electronics. Children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of seven hours a day with digital media. When not in use for academic activities, help your student learn the importance of conserving energy by turning the laptops and tablets off to help reduce energy consumption.

This year support those who are returning back to school live sustainably by sending them back to the class room with these eco-friendly tips!


 

Comcast NBCUniversal is the national sponsor of Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Back2School campaign. In partnership with retailers across the country, BGCA will be holding school supply drives through September to benefit the children served at their Clubs.

During the month of July, NBC and Telemundo owned and operated stations across the country called on viewers to donate supplies or funds in support of students and teachers. The stations have partnered with Communities in Schools and national nonprofits working at the local level including United Way and Boys & Girls Clubs, among others. Many stations are also working directly with DonorsChoose.org, a not-for-profit organization that makes it possible for individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects and make it simple for local viewers to participate in “Supporting Our Schools.”

To learn more about the work that NBCUniversal has done in supporting our communities and schools, visit our Pro-Social Initiatives page.