Back to School Tips for Healthy Kids & a Healthy Planet

August 20, 2010 at 12:25 am

Back to school is a time when we think about our hopes for our kids for the coming year.

We all want our kids to be healthy and safe. For me, healthy kids equate to a healthy planet. In fact, I joined the growing  movement of what I call “unlikely environmentalists” when I realized that our addiction to oil posed a threat to my children’s health and wellbeing, not just in the future, but now. Like we’re getting longer cold and flu seasons thanks to warming temperature– have you noticed?

So here are my Top Ten Tips for how we can set our kids up for a healthy school year by protecting the planet– so that our kids can thrive now and in the future!

I hope you’ll read all the way through because towards the end I offer tips that will really make you feel good because you get to really make a real impact. I saved the best for last.

1.Waste-free lunches in healthy lunch bags! Choose cloth or metal lunchboxes and  avoid backpacks with shiny plastic designs as they often contain PVC and/or lead. (Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contains dangerous chemical additives used to soften or stabilize it.) Here’s a resource that a mom compiled:  Get a PBA-free water bottle, fill it at home with filtered water, and you’re good to go.   Throw in a cloth napkin and you’re good.

2. Organic and local lunches! Did you it takes a lot less energy to grow organic produce? Health for us, healthy for the atmosphere. It’s a two-fer. And local obviously saves on emissions from trucks that otherwise haul our food 15oo miles to our grocery stores!

3. Skip the wasteful single-package items! You know, juice boxes, snacks, all that stuff.  It generates a lot of waste– and it costs a lot. Maybe you and your kids can make lunch together– and bond!

4. Start a school garden. They are not just great ways for kids to learn about how things grow (science!), they can be a source of healthy that some schools use to feed kids (cool!). And what I’ve seen with our school garden is that these gardens build community.  I love our school garden!

5. Start a recycling program. We recycle tape packages and juice packs. It’s a start! Got a recycling program  already? Maybe it can be expanded.

6. Start a composting program for school lunches. If you’ve got a school garden, you’ve got a ready place to put the compost. The garden will appreciate it– and so will the atmosphere! Why? Because methane gas from landfills has over twenty times the heat-trapping power as auto emissions!

7. Take the “Walking School Bus!” When I first heard about this I thought, I want to take the Walking School bus and check out the gardens and trees along the way! And bond with my kids–and other kids. This is one of the coolest ideas out there. So you either walk your own kids, or you join forces with other parents (which works even in dicey urban  areas–  that’s where I learned about the Walking School bus!) Connect with nature, family and neighborhood bonding– and exercise which we sorely need as a society of increasingly obese children.

8. Start a Green Committee. Strength in numbers. Hopefully you can get not just parents but teachers and kids as well. Our school’s garden is a Green Committee project.

9. Work on helping to  reduce the school’s energy use. Why? How? Work to help the janitor or facilities manager make different purchasing decisions (furnaces, windows, lighting)  that can have the greatest impact of anything you do to go green. Tail pipes and smoke stacks are the greatest source of heat-trapping emissions that are bringing us things like weird weather and heat waves.

10. No Idling. Get the school to agree to a policy (with signage!) that parents turn off cars at drop off and pick up. The atmosphere– and your kids– will thank you! Better yet, use your voice by getting your municipality to institute “No Idling” at all schools. I know of a two-mom coalition that did this in a suburb of Chicago. Our voices count!

Seem ambitious? Find natural allies. And act in a spirit of wanting to help the school solve problems– like reducing energy costs in a tight economy!

Using your spheres of influence– not just as a consumer but as a member of a school community– is hugely rewarding and empowering. And it helps us scale up on a problem of great urgency that is doing things like brining us longer cold and flu seasons. It’s what I call Going Green & Getting Happy.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Airwear blogging program, making me eligible to get a $25 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, visit As an eco parent what I like is that they use recycled material and pass their unused materials on to other industries– smart!

So parents– Go Green and Use Your Spheres of Influence!  Because we have exactly enough time, starting now.

Entry filed under: Eco-Action, moms families green eco education parenting green sustainability, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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