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Going back to school is usually associated with a lot of purchases and large expenses for families, so it can also be an excellent time to work with our children on responsible consumption and environmental awareness.

Responsible consumption for going back to school

For the start of the new school year, it sometimes seems essential to have new things: schoolbag, pencil case, tracksuit, uniform and all the rest. But before we start to buy everything again, it is worth checking if we can make use of what we already own from the previous year.

A good way to do this is to make a list of what we will need and compare it with what we already have: can it be reused?

If last year’s tracksuit or school uniform is now too small, but it is still in good condition (and we don’t have anyone at home who can use it), we can donate it so that other families can use it.

The same with books, if they haven’t been replaced by a new edition. Many schools and family associations organise the collection and reuse of both books and clothing. A second use is a new life for these products.

Reusing lunchboxes, water bottles and cloth bags

At breakfast and snack times, it is important to emphasise environmental awareness, because this is when a lot of waste is generated: aluminium foil, plastic film and plastic bags to wrap sandwiches, as well as cartons, bottles and all kinds of individual drinks containers.

It’s best to reduce all of this waste by swapping single-use packaging for reusable containers – such as lunchboxes, water bottles, and cloth bags – for both liquids and solids.

If there is no choice but to use single-use containers, we can teach our children to recognise the different kinds of materials and to separate them for recycling.

If you have to buy, choose organic products

Even if we do all of the above, there will still be some materials that we will have to buy, such as paper and notebooks. In these cases, look to see if they are recycled or from responsible sources, which is usually indicated on the products themselves.

If we have to renew pencil cases and schoolbags, look for materials with less environmental impact, such as natural fabrics, wood, cork or bamboo.

Can we reduce the impact of our journey to school?

Although it is not always possible, a good way to reduce our environmental impact is to change our means of transport. Can we walk or bike to school? If not, consider public transport or car sharing, which have less impact.

And if you want to know more, here is an article on how to reuse.


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