Easy to Extreme Ways to Go Green this School Season

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The summer flew by and school’s already back in session, but don’t fret—it’s never too late to be a green student.  Whether you’re “green” to the eco-friendly lifestyle or a veteran and looking for new ways to challenge yourself, we have tips and ideas for everyone.

Grade School

Easy: Ask your mom to purchase Earth-friendly school supplies. From paper and pens to notebooks and folders, you can find just about everything at The Sustainable Group. All of their products (except their pens, which are made from plants, not plastic) are made from 100% recycled fibers. TerraCycle Inc. makes pencil holders, folders and other school supplies made from recycled Frito Lay, Capri Sun and Oreo wrappers! Not only are they cool looking, earth friendly and made by a local New Jersey company, but they’re perfect if you’re shopping on a budget. (We found the recycled Frito lay pencil holders at our local Target for only $1* each!) *May vary depending on your region.

Intermediate: You’re never too young to be an advocate for the environment. When it’s your turn for Show and Tell, educate your peers about how important it is to care for the environment and tell them what you’re doing to keep the Earth healthy. Too old for show and tell? The next time you’re assigned an oral report, choose an environmental topic and teach your classmates about how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Provide them with a list of 100 Ways to Save the Environment and ask everyone to commit to doing at least two tasks.

Extreme: Go extreme green by making some green for your school. Go to terracycle.net and sign your school up for the Drink Pouch Brigade. For each pouch that you and your classmates collect, TerraCycle will donate $.02 to your school or favorite charity. The best part is that the pouch will be recycled into school supplies. You can also check out Paper Retriever and have a recycling dumpster set up at your school and start collecting paper from your school and your neighborhood and get paid for it! Let your community know that you’re starting these programs at your school and see how much money you can really make. Donate the proceeds to a charity or a green organization of your choice.

High School

Easy: We know high school is hard enough but you can stand out by walking to school instead of taking the bus or driving. You and your classmates can join students from all over the world in the International Walk to School Day on October 7, 2009. Think how cool it would be to see hundreds of students from all over your town walking to school together! Not only will it benefit the environment (significantly reduces CO2 emissions), but if you keep it up, the exercise will have you in tip-top shape for gym class and after school sports!

Intermediate: Start a green club at your school. Your club could adopt a highway, clean up litter, create community gardens and educate the community on ways to be more eco-friendly. Read about how a group of teens in Greensburg, FL organized “The Green Club” in their high school. Their vision is to educate and inspire “…people of all ages to learn about what ‘green’ means.”

Extreme: Step up to the challenge and help turn your entire school into a green environment! Most schools use toxic cleaning supplies, lack sufficient ventilation in classrooms and create enormous amounts of waste. In fact, the average elementary school produces more than 18,000 lbs of school lunch packaging waste. For more information on making your school green, check out the Green Schools Initiative.

College

Easy: Make your dorm room green! Chose linens made with organic cotton, replace standard light bulbs with more energy efficient CFC or LED bulbs and keep the air naturally fresh and clean with some dorm-friendly plants. Recycle and reuse old dishes, refrigerators, TV’s and other dorm essentials by utilizing craigslist.org or freecycle.org. You could also save a little green by going green and renting your college texts books instead of buying brand new ones. Check out campusbookrentals.com for more information.

Intermediate: Give up your spring break in sunny Florida and sign up for an Alternative Spring Break. Gather a group of friends and travel with United Way, Break Away, Habit for Humanity or many other assistance or humanitarian designed programs. Head to a third world country to help improve a family’s way of life by building a new house or take a Volunteer Vacation with American Hiking Society and help build and clean up trails.

Extreme: If you’re really serious about the environment head to a green college or major in environmental science, engineering or any environmentally friendly major.  With the way the green market is growing and the earth is rapidly changing, we can use all the help we can get!

No matter what your age, it’s never too early or too late to start practicing environmentally-friendly habits that will last a lifetime.

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