back-to-school

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Green this year’s back-to-school shopping by reusing last year’s supplies, buying items that contain recycled materials and packing a waste-free lunch.

According to National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2014 Back-to-School Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5 percent from $634.78 last year. Total spending on back to school will drop slightly to $26.5 billion as the survey found there are slightly fewer students in households this summer.

Combined spending for back to school and college is expected to reach $74.9 billion. To find out more information, check out their infographic on this year’s back to school numbers, https://nrf.com/news/infographic-top-2014-back-school-and-college-trends.

Here are some ways to make your back-to-school shopping a little greener while helping you to be below average when it comes to your spending this year:

Back to school

  • Reuse last year’s supplies. Go through the school supplies you already have at home before you hit the stores. Chances are, there are items that you can reuse. Backpacks, lunch boxes, magnets, locks and so on.
  • And while you’re going through your home stash of supplies, don’t throw away unwanted items, gather up extra pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips and the like for donation to a local elementary school or to nonprofit organizations that accept school supplies.
  • If there are supplies you have to buy new, make sure the items is made with recycled materials, including paper, backpacks and pencils, etc. Look for pens and pencils made with sustainably harvested wood or recycled content.
  • Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) plastic school supplies. PVC is unique among plastics because it contains dangerous chemical additives. These harmful chemicals include phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to your child’s health. Look for PVC-free lunch boxes, binders, backpacks and other school supplies. Download the Center for Health, Environment & Justice’s (CHEJ) Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies.
  • Pack a waste-free lunch. Here are some tips from our friends at Litter Free Lunch:
    • Replace brown paper bags with a reusable lunch box or bag (remember to avoid PVC lunch boxes).
    • Swear off plastic bags and use stainless steel food containers.
    • Switch from disposable paper napkins to reusable cloth napkins.
    • Give up the habit of disposable water bottles and replace it with a reusable stainless steel water bottle. If you buy a plastic reusable bottle, make sure it’s BPA-free. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone-disrupting chemical that can impact health at even very low exposures.
    • Skip disposable plastic cutlery and pack a reusable spoons or forks.
    • Save money by avoiding individually wrapped or packaged items like yogurt, cheese, cookies or crackers. Buy larger sizes and pack portions in reusable containers.
  • Organic apples, oranges, bananas and other fruits are healthy additions to any lunch and they come in their own compostable wrapping.
  • Create a weekly meal plan in advance so you can get everything you need in one trip, this will save time, gas money and reduce your carbon footprint. Also, keep a running list of needed items on the fridge, which will help you stay organized to avoid multiple, last-minute car trips.
  • Explore options to safely bike and walk to school or find a classmate willing to carpool.
  • Check thrift stores for reusable school supplies like binders and backpack and back-to-school clothes, giving good-quality, one-of-a-kind fashions a second life.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
The Center for Health, Environment & Justice is an organization that provides assistance to grassroots community groups in the environmental health and justice movement. The Center was founded in 1981 by Lois Gibbs, who helped win the relocation of over 900 families from their neighborhood which was contaminated by chemicals leaking from the Love Canal landfill in Niagara Falls, NY. Through this effort, people began to recognize the link between people’s exposures to dangerous chemicals in their community and serious public health impacts.

 

Visit their blog for insightful conversations about environmental health and justice at http://chej.org/backyard-talk/ and make sure to download the Center’s Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies. They also have a convenient pocket-sized guide you can take with you while you’re shopping.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAMWE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Green this year’s back-to-school shopping by reusing last year’s supplies, buying items that contain recycled materials and packing a waste-free lunch.

According to National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2012 Back-to-School spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, the families with children in grades K-12 will spend an average of $688.62 for school supplies. College students and their families will spend an average of $907.22 on everything from dorm furniture and collegiate gear to school supplies and personal care items. Total combined K-12 and college spending is expected to reach around $84 billion this year.

Here are some ways to make your back-to-school shopping a little greener while helping you to be below average when it comes to your spending this year:

  • Reuse last year’s supplies. Go through the school supplies you already have at home before you hit the stores. Chances are, there are items that you can reuse. Backpacks, lunch boxes, magnets, locks and so on.
  • And while you’re going through your home stash of supplies, don’t throw away unwanted items, gather up extra pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips and the like for donation to a local elementary school or to nonprofit organizations that accept school supplies.
  • If there are supplies you have to buy new, make sure the items is made with recycled materials, including paper, backpacks and pencils, etc. Look for pens and pencils made with sustainably harvested wood or recycled content.
  • Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) plastic school supplies. PVC is unique among plastics because it contains dangerous chemical additives. These harmful chemicals include phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to your child’s health. Look for PVC-free lunch boxes, binders, backpacks and other school supplies. Download the Center for Health, Environment & Justice’s (CHEJ) Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies.
  • Pack a waste-free lunch. Here are some tips from our friends at Litter Free Lunch:
    • Replace brown paper bags with a reusable lunch box or bag (remember to avoid PVC lunch boxes).
    • Swear off plastic bags and use stainless steel food containers.
    • Switch from disposable paper napkins to reusable cloth napkins.
    • Give up the habit of disposable water bottles and replace it with a reusable stainless steel water bottle. If you buy a plastic reusable bottle, make sure it’s BPA-free. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone-disrupting chemical that can impact health at even very low exposures.
    • Skip disposable plastic cutlery and pack a reusable spoons or forks.
    • Save money by avoiding individually wrapped or packaged items like yogurt, cheese, cookies or crackers. Buy larger sizes and pack portions in reusable containers.
  • Organic apples, oranges, bananas and other fruits are healthy additions to any lunch and they come in their own compostable wrapping.
  • Create a weekly meal plan in advance so you can get everything you need in one trip, this will save time, gas money and reduce your carbon footprint. Also, keep a running list of needed items on the fridge, which will help you stay organized to avoid multiple, last-minute car trips.
  • Explore options to safely bike and walk to school or find a classmate willing to carpool.
  • Check thrift stores for reusable school supplies like binders and backpack and back-to-school clothes, giving good-quality, one-of-a-kind fashions a second life.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
The Center for Health, Environment & Justice is an organization that provides assistance to grassroots community groups in the environmental health and justice movement. The Center was founded in 1981 by Lois Gibbs, who helped win the relocation of over 900 families from their neighborhood which was contaminated by chemicals leaking from the Love Canal landfill in Niagara Falls, NY. Through this effort, people began to recognize the link between people’s exposures to dangerous chemicals in their community and serious public health impacts.

Visit their blog for insightful conversations about environmental health and justice at http://chej.org/backyard-talk/ and make sure to download the Center’s Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: When back-to-school shopping, avoid buying school supplies containing polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) or other toxic plastics.

According to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice(CHEJ), PVC plastic is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created. PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash. Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats. When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

Children are at risk from even small exposures to these toxic chemicals. That’s why it’s important to purchase PVC-free school supplies.

CHEJ recently released this years  Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies to empower all of us to make smarter, healthier shopping choices for a toxic-free future. The guide lists the most common back-to-school supplies made out of PVC plastic and suggests safer PVC-free alternatives.

You can also download the wallet-sized version of the guide here: http://bit.ly/ds4bs1

WHAT TO AVOID:

  • Products that are labeled with the words “vinyl” on the packaging.
  • The number “3” inside the universal recycling symbol.
  • The letters “V” or “PVC” underneath the universal recycling symbol.
  • Other toxic plastics to avoid: polycarbonate (PC), polystyrene (PS) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastics.
  • If there isn’t any labeling indicating what the product is made of, call the manufacturer’s question/comment line (usually a toll-free 800 number) listed on the package to find out.

For additional information:
CHEJ’s report, PVC: The Poison Plastic.
Beth Terry’s informative summary on the evils of PVC, New Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies.
CNN’s series of investigative reports by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Toxic America.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Rather than recycling or tossing PVC items, like old vinyl curtains and floor tiles, in the trash, Mike Schade, CHEJ’s PVC campaign coordinator, recommends disposing of them in hazardous waste landfill sites. Call your sanitation department or state environmental agency to see where you might dispose of hazardous material.

CHEJ also suggests returning PVC products and packaging to retailers and manufacturers. “We recommend consumers contact manufacturers and let them know that PVC is an unacceptably toxic material and that it should not be used in production,” says Anne Rabe with CHEJ. “As consumers, they can also send that message by not purchasing products packaged or made from PVC.” Look for the number 3 in the recycling symbol or the letter “V.”

This is becoming an easier task already. Rabe points out that there are a number of PVC alternatives already on the market. For example, Ikea now sells non-PVC shower curtains exclusively.

Some manufacturers have already heard the calls for a halt to PVC use in production. CHEJ has successfully worked with Victoria’s Secret and Microsoft to eliminate PVC from their packaging and is currently in talks with Target, Sears and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has already committed to eliminating PVC in its private-label-product packaging in two years.

Source: CHEJ’s report, PVC: The Poison Plastic

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)
CHEJ’s overarching goal has consistently been to prevent harm—particularly among vulnerable populations such as children. If a safer process, material or product exists it should be used. They believe that everyone, regardless of income, race, religion, or occupation, has a right to live, work, learn, play and pray in a healthy community.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: When you go shopping for back-to-school supplies, WDAY Green Tipsbuy recycled products whenever possible.

Last week we talked about avoiding school supplies that are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl). Hopefully everyone is now armed with their own Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies created by The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ). This week we are taking it a step further. As you prepare for this year’s back-to-school shopping for your child’s supplies avoid PVC and look for recycled products.

According to myhealthyschool.com, more than 75 million students are enrolled in the U.S. education system, and if each child used just one recycled item every school year, that would mean 75 million fewer pieces of garbage deposited in our landfills.

There are recycled, eco-friendly versions of nearly every classroom supply.

Pens (try Pilot Be Green or Zebra brands, both available at Staples, Office Max and Office Depot)

Pencils (try Zebra brand, available at Staples, Office Max and Office Depot, or Paper Mate Earthwrite brand, available at Office Max and Office Depot)

Highlighters (try Zebra brand, available at Staples, Office Max and Office Depot)

Folders in assorted colors (try the Office Depot brand or the Essette brand, available at Kmart)

Subject notebooks in assorted colors (try the Staples brand or College Rule brand, available at Target)

Manila file folders (try Essette brand, available at Office Depot and Kmart)

Box of tissues (try Marcal brand, available at Staples and Office Depot, as well as grocery stores)

Remember using even one recycled product this school year can have a huge impact on our earth.

Source: myhealthyschool.com

This could even extend to back-to-school clothes shopping. Considering buying “recycled” clothing. Shop at a resale clothing store for some of your back-to-school clothes.

Once Upon A Child
Plato’s Closet
City of Fargo, Area Thrift Stores

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

MyHealthySchool.com
MyHealthySchool.com provides teachers, administrators and parents with action plans for creating greener, healthier, more socially responsible schools and children.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a different favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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