In the coming weeks, the easy pace of summer will be over, and the rush of buying supplies, busy mornings, and the routine of work and school will once again be upon us. In the midst of all the advertising onslaught, tax-free shopping, and last minute preparations, take a few moments to think about how your family can prepare for the new school year in the greenest way possible. Here are three tips to help.

1. Banish toxins from your school supplies. Lurking in the back-to school aisles of most stores are things that are not on your local school’s list, namely harmful toxins like lead, PVC’s, BPA and chemical additives. Everything from lunch boxes and bags, pencil cases, backpacks and plastic water bottles may contain harmful chemicals, not to mention what might be in glues, pens, markers and paints. Check labels, and be on the lookout for labels that say “unscented,” “water-based,” BPA-free,” and non-toxic.

2. Don’t buy what you already have. It’s the perfect way to demonstrate to kids that we don’t need to rush out and purchase new things when we already have something usable at home. Paper, pencils, pens, markers, last year’s pencil case – if they are in good condition, why not reuse? Take the money saved on purchasing duplicate supplies and have your kids add it to their piggy bank, for a great reminder that saving money and saving the planet are both worthy and easy!

3. Do you pack a lunch for your child, or an afternoon snack? This is a great place to go greener. Ditch the plastic baggies, prepackaged items, and convenience snacks. Just because it’s convenient doesn’t make it green or healthy. Instead, pack items in a reusable sack or box that is Eco-friendly; send reusable items like Eco-drink containers and cloth napkins. There’s even Eco- and child-friendly reusable glass straws! As for the food itself, it’s easy to mimic the fun of packaged items, like crackers and cheese or fruit and granola, by doing it yourself. You’ll know your child is eating healthy and helping to reduce the burden on the planet.