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Back-to-School Lessons in Sustainability

It’s about time for the school year to start up again, and that means it’s time to revisit a few lessons in family friendly sustainability as we get back into the swing of things. Whether it’s encouraging sustainable clean air habits in students, family, or friends, here are some ways to take sustainable habits into the school year.

Clean Air Action Day

Every clean air action you choose has an impact, Clean Air Action Day happens on August 4, 2021, and we’re inviting you to join us in doing at least one thing to improve air quality. Visit our Clean Air Action Day page to learn how you can help North Texas breathe easy.

Health and Safety

COVID-19 has changed the way that schools operate over the past year. Make sure to keep up with your school district’s back to school plan for COVID-19 protocols and CDC recommendations for a seamless transition.

Sustainable Supplies

Leftover school supplies can save money and make heading back to school less of a headache. Make a list of the supplies you need and compare with what you have left over from previous school years before you head to the store. Reusing old bags, notebooks, and writing supplies is an easy way to reduce waste and help the environment.

If you’re in need of new bags and other school supplies, consider thrifting and keeping an eye out for sales or offers from local organizations or your school district. School districts often have programs designed to help students in need of supplies.

Biking and Boarding Back to School

Did you know that if 100 children at one school walked or bicycled instead of being driven every day for one school year, they would keep nearly 35,000 pounds of pollutants out of the air?

That’s a lot of pollutant, and it’s proof that taking a more environmentally friendly approach to school transportation can make a big difference.

Having your child take the bus, walk, bike, or carpool with a family friend are great ways to help lower the amount of pollution we contribute. If you live close enough to your child’s school these options can help reduce traffic, idling, and help keep our air clean for future generations.

If you are unsure of your districts’ bus routes, make sure to consult their website to find where your stop is located

If you have to wait in the school pick-up lanes for more than 10 seconds, consider turning your engine off, if possible; idling is a major pollution contributor and wastes gas.

If your child can’t catch a bus, carpooling with other neighborhood families or friends is also a great option to get kids where they need to go while helping the environment. If carpooling, make sure everyone’s schedule lines up, and try to rotate days to keep it friendly and fair.

Carpooling and public transit are also a great way for you to get to work without contributing unnecessary pollution. You can log your trips with Try Parking It to earn rewards while helping the environment.

Brush Up on Road Safety

Make sure to check out Look Out Texans and NCTCOG's Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to brush up on safety. Keeping kids safe on their way to school is an important part of heading back to school, so check in with your child’s school to see what they’re doing to keep kids safe.

Remember to maintain a consistent speed and follow the speed limit on the road to keep roads safe and reduce gas use. Inconsistent speeds use gas at a faster rate, and the amount of time saved by speeding will never outweigh the cost.

Ditch the Grocery Bag

Sending your child to school with a reusable lunch bag reduces plastic and paper waste. Using reusable pens and pencils is also a great way to reduce the waste contributed by students during the school year, so if you’re able to provide your student with reusable supplies, consider doing so.

Leave for Work the Right Way

When you’re ready to head out in the morning, close windows, and blinds, set your thermostat at a conservative range, and switch to energy efficient lightbulbs if possible. Take care using appliances during peak hours and make sure to turn off electronics to conserve energy as well.

Teach a Sustainable Lesson

If you’re an educator, consider adding a lesson on sustainability and how pollutants affect our environment. Keeping our air clean is a team effort and teaching future generations about the cost of pollution early will help create sustainable citizens in the future. You can find educational resources here.

Taking these steps as we head into the school year are an easy way to turn clean air actions into healthy habits. Remember to sign up for air pollution alerts on our website and join us in doing one thing to improve air quality on August 4 for Clean Air Action Day. North Texas will thank you.


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