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Back to school and back to environmental friendliness

It's almost time for school to resume. As you're checking items off your back-to-school shopping list, think of some ways to be more environmentally friendly. Here are some tips from, a Web site dedicated to an Earth-friendly lifestyle. Times staff writer

Hit rummage sales, flea markets, secondhand stores and consignment shops. Buy everything you can used. You'll save far more resources with a secondhand wardrobe than fretting over which notebook paper contains the most recycled pulp.

Buy a durable lunch box and pack your child's lunch. There are plenty of lunch kits around these days that will last for years. Or send your child to school with the best homemade lunch you can reasonably afford. Almost anything you prepare at home will be more "eco" than the processed food available in most cafeterias and vending machines.

Let your child ride the bus. Or if you live close enough to school, have him or her walk or ride a bicycle (this assumes sidewalks, low-traffic streets and lockable bike racks). All of these options are much greener than the fleet of idling automobiles you'll see in the pickup line at area schools.

Help your school organize a recycling program. Schools produce lots of waste. While many districts have embraced recycling programs, there's still plenty to do. School staffs are notoriously overworked and underfunded, so see how you can lend a hand. The kinds of trash produced by the education sector are among the most recyclable. Don't forget the lunchroom: A school compost heap is a great learning experience for kids. Stuff that rots! Can't miss.

Avoid overpriced luxury goods posing as eco products. It's not unreasonable to pay a premium for something genuinely "green," but we can't expect to see sustainability in the mainstream until we stop buying products priced at multiples of their actual worth. There's no incentive for companies to integrate green throughout their entire line when they can enjoy fat profits at the top of the market. Instead, concentrate on greening your child's entire school experience — not just what's in their backpack.

Recycled Jeans Pencils (12-pack)

Denim blue pencils are made from minimum 20 percent reclaimed denim from jeans manufacturers. $6.

Bento System 2.0 — Alien

(Flower also available)

Pack your own lunch in the Bento System. This waste-free lunch kit comes with an insulated carrying case, an outer bento container, five inner food containers (three with water-tight lids), a water bottle, a set of stainless steel utensils and a book of creative lunch ideas. The insulated carrying case is made with 100 percent recycled polypropylene fabric. $39.99.

Terracycle Chip Bag Pencil Case

Recycled chip bags are transformed into zippered pencil containers. $1. Target. Terracycle also encourages organizations to collect chip bags and drink pouches, and get paid for them. Go to www. for more information and other recycled products.

Back to school and back to environmental friendliness 08/08/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 8, 2009 4:30am]
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