By Sonja Favaloro, Marketing Assistant

Make this school year the most environmentally-friendly (and budget-friendly) one yet with these tips!

Pack lunches in reusable containers and minimize plastic.

According to the EPA, “33 million tons of plastic waste were generated in 2013, representing 12.8 percent of total MSW [Municipal Solid Waste]”. You can help reduce this amount by purchasing a reusable lunch bag or box for your child, and filling reusable bottles with drinks. If you do use plastic bags, reuse and recycle them. You can even recycle clean Ziploc bags at most grocery stores along with plastic shopping bags!

lunch box

Encourage school cafeterias to buy local food.

In the Western Mass area, contact CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) and the Massachusetts Farm to School Program for more information. CISA also created this useful Farm to School Manual.

Green your transportation.

If you need to drive your child to school, make sure to avoid idling by turning off your engine when picking up or dropping off. Better yet, if you live on a bus route, have your child take the bus! This option saves time of driving children to school and is also far more eco-friendly than driving individually. Or if you live close enough to walk, take advantage of the exercise!

Pack snacks in cloth bags.

To learn how to make your own, follow this Pinterest tutorial!

snack bag

Recycle Electronics and conserve energy.

If you are upgrading electronics, recycle them at centers such as Environmental Integrity in Hadley. You can also save on your electric bill by investing in a smart power strip for all the family gadgets to keep them from drawing electricity when they are switched off.

Reuse school supplies from last year.

While you will likely need to buy a few new supplies each fall, don’t go overboard. You probably have used binders, scissors, and half-used notebooks that can be used again rather than replaced. To make binders and folders look new, try decorating them with wrapping paper or photos.

school supplies

Conserve paper by minimizing printing, printing on both sides, and printing on recycled paper.

Choose sustainable school supplies, such as those that are made from recycled paper and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified to ensure they were harvested sustainably.

Up-cycle a cabinet into a cubby!

Store homework, permission slips and school supplies in this handy personalized cubby instead of buying shelving. To learn how, watch our segment on WWLP’s Mass Appeal.


Buy used books and clothing.

Save money and reduce waste by choosing second hand books and shopping at thrift stores for clothes. You could also organize a book and clothing swap with other families!

Does your child’s school have a recycling program?

If not, encourage the teacher to sign up for The GREEN TEAM, a state-wide recycling program that offers free bins and educational materials.


For more ways to save energy and reduce waste at home, visit our Go Green Resources page. And be sure to check our weekly Go Green Tips on Facebook for more ideas!