Yesterday was the first day of school for Recycla’s daughters. Middle school for both, in case you were wondering. Surprisingly, the girls didn’t complain too much when Recycla and Mr. Recycla walked their daughters to the bus stop yesterday morning, although it was made clear that such embarrassing of the daughters by the parents will not occur going forward. Honestly, they should consider themselves lucky that Recycla didn’t whip out a camera and start taking photos as the bus pulled up.
Anyway, as all parents know, the start of the school brings with it a lot of additions to the family schedule — things that can sometimes make it more challenging to be a good eco warrior while trying to juggle so many responsibilities all at once. With that in mind, Recycla has a few tried-and-true tricks that she’s employed over the years to help save time, money, and/or Planet Earth.
Have a designated spot for school and sports gear. When your kids get home, their backpacks should go in this spot, along with their school shoes, their musical instruments, and anything else that they need on a daily basis. This makes getting launched in the mornings faster and easier, not to mention stuff won’t get lost and then need to be replaced. (Related tip: Put baskets or bins in the hall closet — one for each person, to corral his/her hats, scarves, gloves, bike helmets, and anything else that they might need.)
Organize school supplies and know what you have. Recycla keeps extra notebooks, packs of paper, pencils, pens, and more in one kitchen drawer. If her daughters need something, they know to check the drawer for what they need. Having everything organized and tidy in one location saves Recycla money and time. In fact, this year, she didn’t need to buy much at all because she so many reused and new supplies on hand. (Related tip: If you see supplies on sale over the winter, stock up then so that you don’t have to fight crowds and pay full price late in the summer.)
Deal with school papers immediately and decisively. Recycla has paper recycling bins by her desk and in the kitchen. As she was sorting through the dozens of pieces of paper her daughters brought home yesterday — and seriously, in the 21st century, why aren’t these forms being sent electronically? — she recycled as much as she could, keeping only the ones that are most important. (Related tip: Have one file folder per member of the family for school papers and color code them so that they’re easy to tell apart.)
Make packing lunches as easy as possible. As Recycla has mentioned before, her daughters pack their lunches every day. Instead of buying individually-wrapped snacks and drinks, Recycla buys full-size boxes and bags of pretzels, Pirate’s Booty, Newman-O’s, and so forth. She has plenty of reusable containers on hand and her daughters simply take a couple of minutes each evening to get their lunchboxes ready. (Related tip: Get your children packing their lunches as soon as possible so that you don’t have to do it.)
When you cook, cook double. Make double batches of spaghetti sauce, soups, meatloaf, and any other foods that freeze well. Freeze half of the food and you have a future meal, all ready to go, which is really handy on those crazy-busy nights when there’s no time to cook. You save time and you also save energy, as you don’t need to heat up the stove twice for, say, chicken tetrazzini. (Related tip: Get bonus points from your kids for doing the same with cookie dough and brownie batter. Freeze half of the cookie dough unbaked, but bake the brownies, then cut them into squares, and freeze the squares. Your kids will love having homemade treats in their lunches.)
Don’t stress about it all. No one is perfectly earth-friendly, not even the Eco Women. Just do the best you can and don’t worry about the rest.