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Get Your Students Back to School – While Saving Money and Helping the Environment

Release Date: 08/17/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. - Aug. 17, 2010) – Even in a tight economy, parents and students still need a back-to-school shopping trip for clothes, backpacks, computers and school supplies. A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation found that this year consumers expect to spend an average of $606 for back-to-school needs.

A little advanced planning can help both the environment and your pocketbook. Here are a few tips from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that can point you in the right direction.

     - Buying a new computer, printer, cell phone, or other electronic device? Always look for the Energy Star logo, which indicates that your new computer or other electronic gadget meets strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by EPA. If you are buying a new printer, purchase one that prints double-sided to reduce the use of paper.

     - If you have to discard older, used electronics, do the right thing. Many retailers are partnering with EPA to recycle electronics. You may also be able to donate your old computer to a local school, library or charity for a tax deduction. If you discard the older unit, always check with your local municipality, county, state environmental agency or EPA for the proper way to dispose of electronics safely. E-cycling conserves precious natural resources and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.

     - Before you shop, see what you already have at home. Many supplies can be reused or recycled. Backpacks, notebooks, folders, and binders can all be reused.

     - When you’re out shopping, choose products made from recycled materials such as pencils made from old blue jeans, binders made from old shipping boxes, and of course recycled paper products.

     - Buy supplies wrapped with minimal packaging; or buy products that come in bulk sizes. Packaging accounts for more than 30 percent of all the waste generated each year.

     - Are there clothes that your child has outgrown that are still in good shape? Donate usable items you don’t need to a local charity or shelter so someone else can put them to use, and earn yourself a possible tax deduction at the same time.

     - Share used books with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren. Many schools reuse textbooks to save money and reduce waste.

     - For college textbooks there is a large secondary market for used books. Search the internet for resale sites. Also check with the campus and nearby bookstores.

     - If you bring your lunch to school, package it in reusable containers instead of disposable ones. Bring drinks in an insulated bottle instead of disposable bottles or cartons. This saves money and reduces waste.

     - Encourage your school to organize a recycling program if they don’t already have one.

     - If you drive to school, try carpooling, public transportation, walking or biking instead. By changing your transportation routine, you can save money on fuel costs, lower air pollution levels, and decrease traffic in your community.

A great way to reduce pollution is not to create it in the first place. Prevent pollution by reducing waste, reusing or recycling more. Work with your child’s teachers and friends to find ways to encourage everyone in your community to make reducing waste a part of every day life.

More information:

EPA’s work on Pollution Prevention in New England (

Learn about E-cycling and where to recycle unused electronics in New England (

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Follow EPA New England on Twitter (