Parents urged to make it a green 2019 with sustainable back to school tips

24 January 2019

With close to one million Victorian students set to return to school for the 2019 academic year, Sustainability Victoria is reminding parents, and their children, to ‘do school sustainably’.

Sustainability Victoria CEO, Stan Krpan, said there’s a lot that parents can do to make a difference, set an example and teach their kids some real-life skills at the same time.

“With the War on Waste inspiring many schools to be more sustainable we hope to see parents and students taking action too. There are small changes we can make each day to become more sustainable at home and school.

“New Year’s resolutions may have already dropped off the radar, so this is an opportunity to start anew and set some new-school-year resolutions by using less, wasting less and embracing the reusable revolution.

Our tips for going back to school sustainably

  1. School lunches
    Encourage kids to make their own lunch and use containers suited to nude food to reduce the need for single-use plastic or aluminium foil wrapping. Making your own lunchbox snacks will also helps cut back on food waste by using up wilting fruit and veg.
  2. Reusable wraps
    Reusable beeswax wraps can replace plastic cling wrap for sandwiches and snacks. They can be bought online, at markets or homewares stores, or get the kids involved and learn how to make your own. Look for an online tutorial, or check available courses run through local neighbourhood houses or community centres.
  3. Cut down on packaging
    Buy larger containers when purchasing drinks and yoghurts and decant into a reusable drink bottle or container to reduce single serve packaging.
  4. Compost
    Encourage kids to use your school’s compost system or ask they bring home any scraps for yours.
  5. Make homemade snacks
    Despite what they say, kids will find time for an activity if they are inspired. Kill boredom and build their life skills by teaching them to make their own muesli bars, banana bread, and muffins. You'll also end up saving oodles of plastic packaging waste.
  6. Get more value from food
    Visit the Love Food Hate Waste website for great recipe ideas that use last night’s leftovers in exciting ways for school (and work) lunches. Enter the Love a List challenge to reduce your food bills and waste through a simple meal plan and shopping list.
  7. Sustainable sipping
    If your teenagers are in the habit of buying a latte or smoothie before or after school, a reusable cup is a solid investment.
  8. Stationery
    Save money by digging out pens, pencils and other stationery from drawers, cupboards and school bags rather than buying new ones each new school year. Many stationery suppliers also stock a range of notebooks made from recycled paper.
  9. Textbooks and uniforms
    Most schools have second-hand book and uniform stores, but your local op shop is also worth trying. Many high school English and literature texts are available as free ebooks. For other subjects, ask teachers what the difference is with this year’s version of a textbook compared with last year’s. Connect with locals and community groups on social networks who can pass on second-hand textbooks that their children have finished with.
  10. Furniture
    If you’re looking to buying a desk, bookcase or filing cabinet, then consider checking out the second-hand office furniture shops which often have up-to-date equipment which will last, at discounted prices.
  11. Transport
    Walking or riding to school helps improve fitness and confidence while saving fuel, reducing vehicle pollution and congestion at the school gate. If home is further away, then parents can park a short distance from the school and walk the rest of the way with the kids and use it as an opportunity to teach road rules. Public transport is a common way for students to travel to and from school which also reduces emissions and builds confidence.
  12. Join ResourceSmart Schools
    Our ResourceSmart Schools program is the perfect place for more inspiration. Parents and students can talk to their school about joining. The program guides school communities through the sustainability journey, step-by-step, using a series of modules covering waste, biodiversity, water and energy. More than 500 Victorian primary and secondary schools have joined the program. Best of all, it's free and any Victorian school can join.