City of Fort Lauderdale - Recycling Programs - Back to School
City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Venice of America

Make Your “Back-to-School” Routine an Eco-Friendly Shopping Adventure

In just a few weeks children will be heading back to the classroom, which means they, along with their parents, will be creating their back to school supplies lists. They will need the standard items such as backpacks, paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, and lunch boxes, most of which are now made from recycled materials.

Back to school shopping is a perfect time to Green Your Routine by purchasing recycled or recyclable products, or reusing products you already have. By turning your back to school shopping spree into an eco-friendly adventure you will make a significant environmental difference and the footprints you leave behind will be greener.

Green Your “Back-to-School Shopping” Routine

By purchasing eco-friendly, recycled-content products you are closing the recycling loop. Your purchases not only set an example for your children to follow, but speak volumes about your environmental priorities. Here are a few tips to help you Green Your “Shopping” Routine:

  • Green Your Routine! LogoBring along reusable shopping bags for your purchased items.
  • Read the fine print on the product labels. Recycled product manufacturers often display the universal recycling logo or a reference to “going green.”
  • Make a goal of purchasing products with a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recycled material such as plastic, paper, etc.
  • Purchase school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging; use compact or concentrated products; or buy products that come in bulk sizes.
  • Purchase vegetable or plant-based dyes, soybean oil-based crayons and water-based paints and poster paints for craft projects.
  • Purchase rechargeable batteries for electronic devices.
  • Purchase notebooks and paper supplies made of post-consumer recycled paper and ones with cardboard versus plastic covers.

Green Your “Writing” Routine

Did you know that 14 billion environmentally unfriendly pencils are produced and discarded each year? Have you ever thought about what goes into creating standard back-to-school pencils? Trees need to be cut down to supply the wood to create the pencil and then graphite is inserted inside of it so you can write with it. Unfortunately, much of the wood the pencil is made with is wasted on sharpening or it is tossed away because the pencil becomes too short to write with.

When shopping for school supplies this year, instead of choosing the standard wood pencil, switch to recycled-content pens and pencils. It’s a small purchase that can make a big difference. Here are a few more tips to help you Green Your “Writing” Routine:

  • Select mechanical pencils as an alternative to a standard wooden pencil. They are refillable and 100 percent of the lead is used.
  • If you prefer wooden pencils, select those made from recycled cedar, denim or outdated currency, or those that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  • Purchase refillable pens, non-toxic markers, highlighters, and computer printer cartridges.
  • Purchase pens made with recyclable plastic such as CD cases and disposable plastic cups.
  • Purchase 100 percent natural rubber erasers.

Green Your “Lunch” Routine

Many children enjoy a packed lunch and it can be an eco-conscious meal that saves money. It addition, packed lunches can make good use of reusable, recycled products. Here are a few tips to help you Green Your “Lunch” Routine:

  • Pack a no-waste lunch in a reusable lunch box or bag.
  • Purchase a washable, reusable PVC-free, thermally insulated lunch bag or container such as one made from recycled juice boxes or organic cotton
  • Use reusable containers instead of food storage bags or plastic wrap for sandwiches and snacks.
  • Use a reusable metal water bottle or thermos instead of drink boxes and disposable plastic water bottles.

Green Your “Paper” Routine

Students are sent home with new information about after school activities, educational updates, programs and activities, and graded homework assignments. In addition, students go through pounds of paper each year. Making paper requires millions of trees to be destroyed and billions of gallons of oil to produce it. The daily flow of paper generated for school related purposes alone can generate a lot of waste. Here are a few tips to help you Green Your “Paper” Routine:

  • See if teachers will accept assignments via email.
  • Buy recycled paper products (loose leaf paper, index cards, paper pocket folders, dividers, etc.) that contain the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content possible, that is processed chlorine free (PCF), and that is FSC certified or made from trees in a sustainably managed forest.
  • Put small recycling bins in various areas of your home, especially the homework area to recycle unwanted paper.
  • Print on both sides of paper whenever possible.
  • Save paper that is only used on one side to print drafts. You may also staple several pages together to make a notebook for notes, etc.
  • Take advantage of the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Hungry Green Dumpster Recycling program to recycle items such as cereal boxes, clean pizza boxes, copy paper, junk mail, large corrugated cardboard, magazines and catalogues, and school and home office paper (any color). Hungry Green Dumpsters are located at many Fort Lauderdale schools. For more information visit or call the 24-Hour Customer Service Center at 954-828-8000.

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