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Send Your Kids Back to School Seeing Green

Send Your Kids Back to School Seeing Green

There’s a reason why we don’t try to explain climate change and all of its affects in entirety to kids and instead tell them about endangered species, encourage them to recycle, and educate them about their health. The worldview of a school-aged child isn’t that of an adult’s (and maybe that’s a good thing!), and it can be hard for kids to understand the enormous, long-term impact of their actions. And yet all of our actions impact those around us, near and far, in ways we can’t even imagine and it’s important to start teaching kids to consider their community at an early age. So how can we send them back to school with a green living mentality? Read on to learn where to start.

Start Small
When kids might not even know their own weight, how can they be expected to understand the effects of the 18,000+ lbs of lunch waste they produce each year? Instead of trying to wrap their minds around an idea of that scale, start small. Send them to school with a non-toxic, stainless-steel lunchbox with reusable lunch bag and stainless steel water bottles, explaining that these items can be used over and over, for years, while paper and plastic lunch ware can’t be cleaned and must be thrown out every day. Give them the assignment of looking around the lunchroom and seeing how many brown paper sacks, sandwich bags, juice pouches, and snack wrappers get thrown into the trash each day. After a week, they’ll begin to understand just how much waste one student or lunchroom can really produce.

Hit Home
Because your student may not notice the litter in the park or the hundreds of plastic bags stuck in trees around town, he may not even think twice before tossing his bubblegum wrapper on the dugout floor at a baseball game, or his empty soda can into the trash instead of the recycling bin. By volunteering to pick up trash on a local street or at a park, you’re showing your kids how to respect beauty, the environment, and our communal spaces.

Teach Mindfulness
Does your kid wolf down dinner and dessert without once looking up, or while staring at the television, only to later complain of a stomach-ache or get a case of the grouchies? By teaching kids some simple mindfulness techniques, they can learn for themselves how healthy foods affect their bodies and how they feel after chowing down on junk. As a family, sit down for dinner together and take a deep breath before beginning the meal. Encourage kids to put down their utensils between bites, and after the meal is done ask children to notice their bodily sensations and feelings. Then ask again 30 minutes later. Children (and parents) might be surprised to notice that they didn’t really need that second helping of mashed potatoes and that a bag of cheetos before bed results in a junk food hangover. Using simple techniques like these help your children learn about health from the inside out, and the method will serve them well in other areas of life as well.

What green tips, concepts, and facts have your kids embraced? What questions do they ask about living healthy? Who do they think makes up their community?

Take a book, Return a book: Celebrate Back to School!


Back to school is the perfect time of year to join the excitement and encourage your children to adopt good reading and learning habits. We strive for the best for our children which is why we spend so much time looking for the best schools and making sure teachers are exceeding our expectations. However, parents often forget how much power they have to influence their children’s learning potential. This can be done simply by making books an integral part of kids lives and introducing fun ways to learn!

Reading with your children helps them form a special bond with you as well as fosters academic excellence. Reading specifically improves speech, communication and language skills. Additionally, it gives children of all ages and walks of life an avenue for adventure and new experiences. A new way parents and families are bringing excitement to reading is by offering the fun of reading to their whole neighborhood through Little Free Libraries. Read on for my favorite Little Free Library design.

free little library

You may be asking yourself what is a Little Free Library?! It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a container full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. Little Free Libraries can be found all over the states but don’t fret if your neighborhood doesn’t have one yet!

You can find simple instructions to build your own Little Free Library but know the options for this project are limitless! Your children can experience the joy of helping others by donating some of their already read books as well as enjoy the benefit of being able to read books other families donate. This is a win/win for all involved and a great way to get involved in your community as well as foster your child’s academic future. Perhaps spoken best by Dr. Seuss, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Cheers!

4 Green, Healthy Snacks for School

snacks.jpgSchool children are growing their bodies, brains, and personalities and eating right is key for the healthy development of all three. With so much junk available to kids these days, we thought we’d provide some ideas for delicious, nutritious snacks to send to school with your kiddos. Buying non-GMO and organic when possible is far healthier than buying conventional. Read on for 4 green, healthy snacks for school.

#1: Fruits and Vegetables
Seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables are such an important part of your kids’ diet. Check out your local farmer’s market or CSA to see what’s in season, or visit the local or organic sections of your grocery store’s produce aisle—the cheapest, most abundant produce is usually what’s in season! Kids love carrots and ranch dressing; you can also pack cut up cucumber, radishes, tomatoes, broccoli, and snap peas with a yummy dressing or homemade hummus for a fiber or protein boost.

#2: Nuts and Seeds
One of my all-time favorite, classic snacks (and one I know most kids love) is organic apples and peanut butter (I buy the kind you have to stir because it’s made without palm oil). You can also substitute almond butter if you’re trying to avoid peanuts or sunflower seed butter if your kids can’t do nuts at all. Nuts and seeds are packed with Omega fatty acids, regulate blood sugar, and provide a protein-fat boost that lowers cortisol and helps stressed kids calm down. My favorite trail mix to pack as a snack is a combination of almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate pieces, dried cherries, and dried blueberries—it’s an Omega-3, super food power snack!

#3: Whole Food Bars
Whether you make your own or purchase a nutritious option, bars that are packed with protein, fiber, and good fats make for a great snack that will keep your kid full and focused throughout the afternoon. Check labels: it’s best to buy organic, non-GMO, whole food bars that are made especially for kids because they’ll pack the right amount of vitamins and be lower in sugar. Choose nuts, seeds, and dried fruits over sweet bars that will just make your kids crave candy.

#4: String Cheese
String cheeses are so much fun to eat and they’re the perfect little pick-me up as a mid-morning or –afternoon snack. Most are under 100 calories so they won’t make kids sleepy but are full of fat and protein to give their brains and bodies the little kick they need to make it to 3:00. I like to pair a string cheese with a piece of seasonal fall fruit.

What school snacks do your kiddos gobble up? Which ones come back home in their lunchbox?

5 Green Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

colored pencils

It’s that time of year again! If you have more than one child or your only has been through a few rounds of back-to-school, the novelty of buying all new supplies and clothes may have worn off now that you realize what an impact fall shopping has on your wallet and the environment. Read on for 5 simple tips for back-to-school shopping.

#1: Go Through Last Year’s Supplies
Most teachers call for a pretty generous supply of notebooks, folders, pens, and pencils. Go through your craft room or office to see if you have any untouched notebooks or folders in good enough shape to reuse. It’ll save you time and money and prevent unnecessary waste.

#2: Try On Last Year’s Wardrobe
Not all clothing items or brands fit the same—some run bigger than others. Plus, clothes that are worn less frequently have also been washed and dried less frequently and may still offer some wiggle room. Have your student try on last year’s clothes to see if there’s anything you can salvage before buying new. For items that have been outgrown buy second hand or from a sustainable, green brand in cases where you must buy new.

#3: Check Amazon
Before spending a fortune on new text books and the English class reading list, check Amazon! Chances are you’ll find what you need in like-new condition for much less. Buying used books where possible is a much greener option. If your student isn’t required to make notations, you can sell them back at the end of the year—bonus!

#4: Send a Waste-Free Lunch
The average American family spends $400 extra per year on disposable lunch ware and creates about 4,320 pieces of trash—mostly plastic packaging—unnecessarily. Not to mention the fact that plastics contain harmful chemicals like BPA and phlalates. Send your kids’ lunches to school in a reusable lunchbox, and replace bottled water and boxed juices with stainless steel bottles you fill at home.

#5: When Buying New, Buy Green
There’s no doubt you’ll still need to make some new back-to-school purchases this fall. Look for brands that use recycled paper and pen or marker canisters to make new supplies. Green backpack, shoe, and clothing brands are springing up everywhere, too!

What’s your favorite way to go green during back-to-school shopping?

Homework Vs. No Homework: Where Do You Stand?


by Jennie

Now, that we are half-way through September, are you getting adjusted to your fall schedule? Have the kids fallen into their back to school routine? I always anticipate back to school with mixed emotions – happy that Eben will be learning new things (and he loves school), and sadness because I really enjoy seeing him all day and it reminds me that he is growing up quickly.

The mister and I attended the open house at Eben’s school last week. I find open house to be a little overwhelming – you start in your child’s 1st period class, the teacher has about 10 minutes to tell you everything they feel you need to know, a bell rings, you have a handful of minutes to get to the next period and so on. It’s a whirlwind of information that moves so quickly, if you aren’t proactive in asking your questions – you could easily leave more confused than you began!

What I did learn is it seems in many ways that the 8th grade of today is very  similar to my own experience. The teachers have the same teaching style, (some are fun/some more serious) and what might be completely acceptable in one class, another teacher won’t tolerate (chewing gum!) However, there was one very distinct idea that every single one of Eben’s teachers had in common, they do not assign homework.

I have to admit at first, I thought, “really, no homework – is that a good idea?” Then, I started to reflect on the ghosts of homework past in our house. There have been many times when Eben has come home with what I deemed a crazy amount of homework for one night and one class. There have been nights that we literally sat down for several hours simply to complete the homework that was due the next day. And I have seen Eben’s attitude towards a subject change based simply on the amount of homework that was coming home for that class – whether he loved the subject or not. Not to mention, after working all day – spending the little amount of time that I get with Eben at night doing homework seemed like a waste of perfectly good family time.

All of these things were a major concern for me and I am sure many parents can relate. Then, I took those thoughts a little deeper and wondered how parents with multiple children have time to get all of that homework done, not to mention parents who have to work at night or single parent homes. And to be honest, I don’t feel like Eben absorbed more information by doing all of this busy work each night – instead, I feel like we moved through it as quickly as we could so we would still have some family time to enjoy. Are you the same?

So, overall I am happy and excited to have a school year that is virtually free of homework. While I understand that they will still be special projects and book reports due all year long, I don’t feel like we have this “we have to get home right after school to do homework” attitude anymore. Instead, Eben can spend that time volunteering at the library, being a part of a school club, studying and creating art at his studio, or enjoying time with family and friends – which to me just sounds like a much better way to spend those after school hours.

What are your thoughts? Are you for or against homework? Does your child’s school give homework? Sound off in the comments section, I would love to hear your experience.