Back To School – A Time to Create Green Traditions

by Melody Morrow

Some of my favorite memories from childhood include starting the new school year off with new ideas, clothes and supplies. I couldn’t wait for the annual tradition in our house. According to Wikipedia, the English word “tradition” comes from the Latin tradition, the noun from the verb traderere or tradere (to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping).

Below are a few ideas on traditions new and old for kicking off Back To School with an eco-friendly twist:

  1. Bring an apple to the teacher on the first day, week or month. No one really seems to know how this tradition started, but it certainly has endured. Click the link to find out more on
  2. Walk with your child on the first day instead of taking the bus if possible.
  3. Pack lunch in a reusable container like Lunchskins and make sure there is at least one better for you treat inside like Fruit Bliss’s mini apricots with a note pointing out it’s specialness and of course how special the first day is.
  4. Create a special first day back to school dinner with a homemade meal, preferably with lots of veggies, fruits, organic eggs, cage free chickens, gluten free noodles. Treat it like a real celebration. We do it for graduations so why not begin on the right foot with less of a carbon foot-print.
  5. Pick one eco friendly school supply like Staples’ Sustainable Earth Composition Notebook to buy that your child can use for show and tell. A backpack, pencil, or pad is always fun and could be a fun search to engage your child.
  6. Take your kids to the grocery store like Trader Joes, Whole Foods or Wegman’s and go healthy snack food shopping. Let them tell you what they would like each day. I understand it may be hard not to get lost in the junk food aisles along with your kids, but if you are adventurous just maybe… If old enough, ask them to review their snack choices and even have them post a comment online with your guidance.
  7. Plant a seed the first week of school. Decorate a milk carton, egg crate, etc and watch it grow next to your kid’s growth chart. has some great DIY planter ideas to share. I like their ideas of using smashed cans and bricks which are so creative.
  8. Create a first day of school picture book and share on Pinterest or make a special tab for back to school on Facebook instead of printing an album. Do it every year. Wonderful keepsake.
  9. If your child has a book or clothes, etc. from last year they don’t need anymore find out if another child needs to start their year off right by receiving your gift. Give a gift every year.
  10. Support a thrift store that supports a non-profit in your neighborhood by buying an item that relates to school. An inexpensive way to do something fun and bring home a goody without breaking the bank and adding to a worthy organization.
  11. Shop online and save gas-a fun 60 minutes to spend with your child.
  12. If your child is old enough to write ask them to write in a journal like Ecojot about their first week about a new green tradition. Also ask why it’s so important to not only their health, but also the health of their community and the planet.

Let us know about your favorite back to school tradition and how you made it green.

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