Summer is winding down, which can only mean one thing: it’s almost time for kids to go back to school! Going back to school is about new beginnings, so why not use this as an opportunity to teach kids to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle? Here are ways you can go green as you help your kids prepare to go back to school:

See what you already have.

Most teachers will send home a list of school supplies your kids will need for the upcoming school year. A lot of supplies such as paper, pens, pencils and folders will be needed year after year. Before you grab this list and head to the store to start shopping, check to see if you have anything left from last year. Did your kids use all 1000 sheets of notebook paper? Are their binders still in good condition? If so, remove everything from the inside and let kids reuse them again this year. Don’t buy anything you don’t need and you’ll save money while helping the environment, too.

Arrange transportation.

If you live close to your kids’ school, encourage them to walk or bike there every morning instead of relying on you for a ride. If your kids aren’t old enough to go alone, go with them! But, unfortunately not every family lives within biking or walking distance to school. Plus, you will need to have a backup plan ready in case it rains or snows and kids can’t bike or walk to school. Talk to other parents in the neighborhood and put together a community carpool. Not only does this reduce carbon emissions produced by cars, but it will also give you more time to yourself in the mornings when you’re not on carpool duty!

Reuse materials.

Instead of putting your children’s lunch in a brown paper bag every morning, buy reusable lunchboxes, napkins and thermoses. This will help you cut back on the waste your kids produce everyday at lunch. Another bonus? Younger kids will love picking out a reusable lunchbox with a fun design!

Donate old clothes.

Kids grow quickly, so they will most likely need new clothes before the school year begins. What do you usually do with the clothes that don’t fit your kids anymore? This year, donate everything your child has outgrown to a local charity and teach kids about the importance of finding a way to reuse things you no longer need.

Or, talk to other parents in the neighborhood about hosting a clothing swap together. The dress your daughter has outgrown may fit a neighbor’s child beautifully, and your kids may be able to find an entirely new wardrobe from their friends down the street.

Rent textbooks.

If your kids are heading off to college, they will have to acquire textbooks for their classes. Instead of buying brand new textbooks, talk to your kids about renting them. Renting textbooks is much more affordable than buying new ones, plus it helps to reduce the number of new books being produced, so it is a much more eco-friendly choice.

Back to school can be a stressful time for both parents and kids, but with these eco-friendly tips, at least you can find peace of mind knowing you are helping the environment!