Back to School Eco-Friendly Tips

It’s that time of year again with the last few carefree summer days and the return to routines. For those of you responsible for school aged children, you may be hearing increased groans or anxiety about the prospect of returning to school while at the other end of the spectrum, perhaps excitement about reconnecting with friends. For parents and caregivers, there could be jubilation that the kids are back in school; a little sadness that their kids are growing up so fast; or dread over getting back into the routine of morning mayhem, packing lunches, etc.

While the past two years have been filled with many unknowns, here’s hoping for a ‘normal’ school year from the ‘good old days’ that run uninterrupted from September to June. Regardless of what this year brings that might be out of our control, we can all choose to take action to reduce our impact on our local environment.

Getting to and from school

Girl walking to school
Image courtesy of Every Metre Counts (

If you live close enough to school – within 1.6 km for elementary students – the bussing program offered through the school boards is typically not an option. The good news is that Burlington Transit is always an option. Did you know that Burlington Transit is free for those 12 and under and 65 and older? And, if you’re a McMaster University, Mohawk College or Redeemer College student, you can get unlimited access to Burlington Transit with a monthly U-pass add on for $30!

For those who live closer to school, a healthier option to being driven to school includes walking or cycling. Not only will you and your child be getting exercise, but it also offers a great opportunity to relax and have some great conversations.

If you must drive your child to school, consider parking your car a little further from school and walking the rest of the way. This will help reduce the amount of pollutants that are around schools from all the vehicles. And, it will be a safer environment for all with less cars on school property.

If you pick your child up in your vehicle, please turn your engine off while you wait. If you idle unnecessarily in Burlington for longer than one minute, you could receive a $120 ticket. Your children, pocketbook and car will thank you.


Poster regarding tips for a waste-free school season
Image courtesy of Recycling Council of Ontario.

When packing lunches, consider waste free lunches. While the snack size or individual packages might be convenient, they do generate a lot of garbage because often these packages can’t be recycled.

While there is a lot of signage at schools as to the proper bin to place one’s waste, I have seen it first-hand that many kids, like adults, throw their waste in the nearest bin. Or, they might be practicing wish-cycling assuming that the package must be recyclable.

Another great way to reduce waste is to provide your child with a reusable water bottle, rather than a single use bottle. If needed, your child can refill their bottle at school bottle refilling stations.


Image courtesy of Recycling Council of Ontario.

Try not to get caught up in the back to school shopping frenzy. Yes, your child has likely outgrown their clothes from last September. However, do you need to buy new? Consider checking out local reuse stores. Even if your child wears a uniform to school, some of these stores have plenty of crested tops and navy bottoms. You’ll be surprised at what great deals are out there. Not only are you saving money but also reducing the impact from manufacturing new clothes.

Do you really need to buy new pens, pencils, rulers, etc.? Do an inventory of school supplies and don’t forget to make a list before heading out the door to avoid impulse purchases.

Connection to climate action

Changing your school commute from driving to walking or rolling will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help us meet our greenhouse gas target to be a net carbon neutral community by 2050. Buying second hand or reusable items also reduces the emissions associated with producing, transporting and disposing of products.

Take Action Burlington! Let’s make our back to school experience as environmentally friendly as possible. Collectively we can make a difference!

5 thoughts on “Back to School Eco-Friendly Tips

  1. You haven’t even mentioned transit. Lots of students are taking transit to get to and from school – why is this option not mentioned and promoted?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s