Back to School's Three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Special to The Log

As nearly 50 million students head back to elementary and secondary schools, and an additional 21 million students go back to college, Waste Management encourages parents, students and educators to think about ways to make this school year a lesson in sustainability.

“As school boards, administrators, teachers, parents and students prepare for a new school year, Waste Management is providing some easy tips to use in your daily routine to help reduce waste,” said Tricia Farace, Waste Management community relations manager, Gulf Coast Area.

Here are some waste reduction tips to remember this school year:

Tips for Students and Parents

• Reduce trash created by disposable bags, sandwich bags and foil by packing lunches in washable, reusable lunchboxes, bags and containers.

• Reusable coffee mugs and travel containers are a better option than disposable paper cups.

• Replace juice boxes and disposable cans and bottles with refillable water bottles. Many have caps that can clip to backpacks and lunch bags.

• Whole fruits and vegetables as snacks are healthier and better for the environment than packaged snacks.

• Consider purchasing paper and notebooks made from recycled paper or other eco-friendly supplies.

• When possible, take notes electronically on your laptop.

• When upgrading to the latest phone, computer, tablet or other device, look into buyback and recycling programs or donate the old ones to a not-for-profit organization.

• Educate yourself on your school’s recycling programs.

Going Green on Campus

• Create an organized group to start recycling. School-related groups might include science classes, environmental clubs, and parent-teacher organizations.

• Encourage students and teachers to donate leftover school and office supplies at the end of the school year.

• Classroom paper recycling can be as easy as providing every classroom with a receptacle for used paper that is collected separately from garbage.

• If available, place lunch food and cafeteria leftovers in compost bins on campus.

• Recycle old computers, cell phones, stereo equipment, televisions, or other electronic equipment. The electronics can be recycled and refurbished for reuse in your school and community organizations. Look into buyback and recycling programs or donate the old electronics to a not-for-profit organization.

• Purchase recycled paper products or other eco-friendly supplies for your campus.

• Notify your community about the waste reduction program at your school. Your local government or community groups can spread the word and participate in your program.

• Reward participants. A reward system could provide incentives to help the success of your waste reduction program. Pizza parties, gift certificates, or donations to charities are examples of good rewards.