Go green as you head back to school

Make a difference, from the bus stop to the athletic field

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Step out the door and step into sustainability this school year.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says taking strides toward sustainability is easier than you think. From small changes in daily routines to tips students can carry with them now through June, see how everyone can make a difference from the bus stop, to the athletic field, making lunches and all the way through the last class of the year.

At home Consider a school supply swap with family, friends or neighborhood families. It's a great way to meet other families and maybe even make a full set of school supplies. Have snacks or a potluck after the swap and get kids together for a "new to you" clothing exchange too!

Look for school supplies with minimal packaging.

Challenge siblings or friends to a zero waste lunch and see who can bring a lunch with the least amount of disposable items and packaging.

Swap the paper bagged lunch for a lunchbox or other form of reusable bag.

Switch out single use plastics for reusable straws and reusable utensils.

Ditch sandwich or snack baggies for reusable containers.

Repackage bulk food items into reusable containers to stray away from the abundance of single serving packaging.

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

At school Help your school recycle right. Encourage your school to check with their recycling hauler to see what should and should not be put in your school's recycling bins.

Start up a school green team or join one. You can do anything from improving your school's recycling program to encouraging your school cafeteria to reduce it's food waste.

Encourage your school to buy items made from post-consumer recycled content such as printer paper.

Be sure to use both sides of the paper when taking notes in class and use double-sided printing.

For classroom birthday celebrations, try forgoing single use plastics or the paper wrapping on cupcakes.

Looking for a new sport? Form a team and try Keep America Beautiful's Recycle-Bowl, a national K-12 recycling competition.

Don't forget to bring your reusable water bottle to sports practice!

Slam dunk any recyclable water bottles or soda cans at the school's athletic fields and playgrounds.

Learn more about waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting at dec.ny.gov/chemical/294.html.

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