The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says it's easy to help the environment and be more sustainable as you go back to school. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Buying school suppliesReuse school items left over from last year; backpacks, scissors, pencils, binders, crayons, markers, etc.

Look for products that aren't sold with a lot of packaging, and try to think of ways to either reuse the packaging that comes with what you buy, or recycle the materials if possible.

Look for post-consumer recycled content when buying paper, binders, pens and pencils.

Buy non-toxic alternatives — look for non-toxic pens, markers, art supplies and other school supplies.

Use rechargeable batteries in your electronics.

Preparing school lunchesThink "reusable" when packing lunches: use reusable lunch boxes or canvas bags, sandwich containers and utensils.

Bring a reusable stainless steel bottle or bisphenol A-free (BPA-free) bottle for water or other drinks instead of single-use beverage containers.

Look for bulk food items instead of those that are packaged as single servings. A nutritious school lunch doesn't have to involve lots of throw-away packaging.

Greening your school dayEncourage your school to institute a good recycling program or expand their existing program, as well as compost its cafeteria food scraps and yard waste.

Use both sides of paper when possible.

Take the bus, carpool, bike or walk to school if possible.

Learn more about waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting at