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Back-to-school green tips

Tools for living    Stop waste before it starts    Back-to-school tips

Getting ready for school? Go green with tips to save money, conserve natural resources and reduce your carbon footprint.

At home

  • Pack waste-free lunches by using permanent containers, reusable utensils and cloth napkins.
  • Host a fun clothing-swap party for friends and neighbors.
  • Avoid buying too many supplies by inventorying what’s already at home.
  • Rather than throw away unwanted items, gather up extra pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips and the like for donation to a local elementary school or to nonprofit organizations that accept school supplies.
  • Keep a running list of needed items on the fridge, helping you stay organized to avoid multiple, last-minute car trips.
  • Create weekly meal plans in advance to stock the fridge in one trip, saving time and gas money and reducing congestion and pollution.
  • Choose tap water over bottled products. It’s just as good and – at less than a penny per gallon – it’s a great bargain.

At school

  • Take good care of your pack, folders, cell phone and other items. They’ll last longer, saving you money in the long run.
  • Prevent waste and unnecessary purchases by using pens until the ink runs out, holding on to pencils until they’re too short for writing and making use of each blank page in your notebook.
  • Connect with dorm mates ahead of time to determine which housewares – from dishes and hair dryers to furniture and electronics – you can share, cutting down on unnecessary purchases.
  • Reuse items from home when furnishing the dorm room. For remaining items still needed, check local thrift stores near the school.

On the go

  • Shop for back-to-school apparel at thrift and vintage-clothing stores, giving good-quality, one-of-a-kind fashions a second life.
  • Consider refurbished computers over new ones. They often cost less, and some come with a warranty when purchased from the manufacturer.
  • Choose products with more recycled content – paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer materials, for example – and less or no packaging. If the product comes with packaging, first ensure the wrapping or container includes recycled content and can be recycled.
  • Look for pens and pencils made with sustainably harvested wood or recycled content.
  • Check thrift stores for reusable school supplies such as binders and backpacks.
  • Collaborate with other parents on a carpool for the kids to reduce pollution and traffic congestion while saving time and money.
  • Learn how high schoolers in the Portland Public School District can ride TriMet for free at http://trimet.org/fares/youthstudent.
  • Explore options to safely bike and walk to school.

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Use the directories or the recycler locator tool to find organizations that accept metals, plastic, paper and many other materials and products that typically end up in our landfills.

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