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BellaOnline's Natural Living Editor

Green Back To School

Getting ready for back-to-school doesn't have to hurt your pocketbook or add to the load Mother Earth is carrying. When trying to go "green" this school year, keep the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle" in your mind, and you can't go wrong. Follow these easy tips to make the school season less stressful and more eco-friendly.

1. Start off by taking stock of what you have. Surely, you have pencils, pens, paper, glue sticks, or other school supplies left over from last year. Typically, schools provide you with lists of what is needed. Do a quick inventory before you hit the stores. Also, make a list of what bigger items you have that can be used for the new year. Is the back pack still sturdy? Is the lunchbox still working? What clothes and shoes still fit?

2. Swap or sell what doesn't fit or can be used by someone else. Oftentimes, moms' groups will have a clothing swap. Usually the idea is that you bring your old clothes and swap with others. It is a great way to get rid of old stuff and find some new treasures. Also, consider selling on craigslist or having a tag sale.

3. Once you have your list of "must haves", don't overbuy. Buy only what is needed and resist the urge to buy in bulk, because it seems like a good deal. When possible, purchase recycled, biodegradable, or refillable products. Even the big box stores will have supplies that are eco-friendly.

4. It is exciting to pick out new outfits for school. Limit what you buy new and if you can, consider organic or bamboo clothing. Also, consider buying used clothes at thrift or consignment stores. It can be quite a treasure hunt and a fun adventure. Often consignment stores sell name brands for way less.

5. Lunchtime doesn't have to be filled with throw-away wrappers and lots of garbage. Use a lunchbox instead of a paper bag. Consider using small mason jars for fruits, salads, or yogurt, reusable wrappers for sandwiches, and a reusable bottle for liquids (BPA free, stainless steel, or glass). Always pack healthy lunches that are organic and pesticide free.

6. Traveling to school can be eco-friendly as well. If possible, the best option, is to walk or bike to school. Next, is public transportation, either by school bus or city bus. Then, comes car pooling with other families. Taking your child and dropping him or her off at school is not good for Mother Earth at all. Sometimes it must be done, but try minimizing it or utilizing other options.

There are many ways to not go overboard with the back-to-school rush. It can be fun and you will be teaching your children a lesson that hopefully they will pass onto the next generation.

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