Back to school
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Date: 01 September, 2009



'If you need new things for school, why not make them as green as possible this year?'


Back to school goods were in the shops before the holidays started but now that the new term is almost upon us, how can the kids get greener at school? Suzanne Elvidge finds out

It seems like you’ve only just had your eco-friendly summer and your green holidays but I’m afraid the evenings are starting to get shorter and it’s time to think about going back to school.

If you need new things for school, why not make them as green as possible this year?

Getting there

Walking to school is the most eco-friendly way to travel, and it keeps you fit and gives you a bit extra social time with your friends and family. Don’t forget to cross the road safely.

Walk to School Month is in October, but why wait until then – why not start a walking bus for the new term?

Things to wear

Be green (even when you are wearing black or grey) with shirts and trousers made out of recycled bottles and shoes made from recycled leather.

School uniforms seem to get smaller (or is it that children grow?) Many schools run second-hand sales where you can buy and sell uniforms still in good condition, and groups like Freecycle (find a local group), JumbleAID or vSkips.

Things to carry

Eco-friendly bags come in all shapes and colours – organic cotton birdy bags, bags made out of seatbelts, recycled paper bags, bags made from juice cartons, or jute fundraising bags.

Or you could go low cost and totally eco and make your own from recycled fabric – try a tote bag, a shoulder bag, a stencilled bag or a plastic milk bottle bag (don’t forget to recycle the left-over pieces).

Things for your desk

Even though computers are used so widely, there are still times when only a pencil will do.

Eco pens and pencils can be made out of recycled plastic, recycled denim, recycled cardboard, recycled car parts and recycled newspapers.

Put your pens and pencils in a recycled pencil case made out of an old tyre.

Don’t fancy rubber? Make your own out of a crisp bag or old video cassette. Add your recycled pencil sharpener and recycled ruler and you are done.

Things for your computer

Computers can be a big drain on power. There are computer standby switches that switch off your computer and peripherals when they are not in use.

Printing uses a lot of resources. Using recycled printer cartridges saves waste and money (and recycling them again raises money for Christian Aid), and using an eco font, with tiny holes in the letters can save printer ink.

Use recycled paper, and print on the back of used pieces of paper. However, the best way to save paper and ink is not to print things out – if you want to see what it will look like on a page, try a PDF printer.

Enjoy the new term, and remember, it will soon be Christmas!


Suzanne Elvidge is a freelance writer and Surefish Ethical Living Editor


Further reading

Low carbon holidays

Saving water

• Read other ethical lifestyle articles



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