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Go Back To School Green


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Once again, it’s time for reading, writing and ‘rithmatic. It also might be time to consider new ways to be environmentally conscious in the place where your kids will be spending the bulk of their time–school.

While I’ve never considered myself a radical environmentalist, the more I read about the long-term effects of chemicals and pollutants on our kids, the more I find myself trying to keep their environment clean, at home and at school. Verona’s public schools have made a lot of progress on that front, implementing school recycling programs and appealing for parents to not idle their cars at pick-up and drop-off times. The Board of Education has even listened to a student presentation on using green cleaning products.

Things are likely to be even greener at Verona’s public schools this fall. The schools’ new facilities director, Paul McDevitt, has worked out a plan to collect paper for recycling every other week from all schools and to bring cardboard from H.B. Whitehorne and Verona High School to the Verona Recycling Center on Commerce Court. Even with so much of the information from school now coming home electronically (have you signed up for e-mails?), they still generate a lot of paper waste.

Of course, there’s a lot more to environmentalism than this: The motto the kids learn is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. So, if you’re also wondering what you can do to make the back-to-school process more environmentally friendly here are some new things to try, as well as a few things to remember.

  • Walk to school as often as you can.
  • Pack snacks and lunches in reusable containers rather than disposable plastic bags.
  • Send in a reusable beverage container and leave the plastic bottles at home.
  • Choose a hand sanitizer that is fragrance-free, triclosan-free and contains ethyl alcohol.
  • Lunch boxes. My kids love getting new lunch boxes. Choose one made from non-toxic materials with no lead paint, PVC, BPA or antimicrobial chemicals. A good option is one made from cotton; Trend Coffee Bar & Boutique has some great ones.
  • Antibacterial wipes. Many of us have been asked to send in Clorox wipes. Consider sending in a green cleaning product that is free of triclosan, triclocarban, dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride or dimethyl ethylbenzyl ammonium chloride. Be sure all ingredients are listed on the label. “Other ingredients” can mean many things.

For more ways to go back to school green, see the Verona Environmental Commission’s Web site for tips on a green school year.

Home page photo by Foosco via Flickr.

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