Eco Tools for Back to School

It’s back-to-school time! The yellow school buses have returned to our morning commute and everywhere we look, students are sporting new backpacks and brand spanking new clothes. The start of the school year is a perfect time to teach your kids a few easy ways to fight runoff pollution and protect the ocean. Here, we’ve outlined five eco-friendly tools that will stick with your children for years to come:

  • Give lunch an eco-makeover. School lunches generate about 67 pounds of trash per student each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Ditch those plastic baggies in favor of reusable containers, pack a thermos or non-disposable water bottle and leave juice boxes off the grocery list. If the cafeteria doesn’t already have a composting program, encourage school officials to set one up. Composting organic waste lightens the load in landfills and curbs use of water-contaminating chemical fertilizers.
  • Try a car-free commute. Getting kids to school on foot or by bike helps keep them—and the ocean—healthy. In fact, research shows that if 20 percent of U.S. kids living within two miles of school walked or biked each day instead of traveling by car, they’d keep more than 350,000 tons of car-generated pollutants out of the environment every year. Those pollutants include motor oil, which is loaded with lead and arsenic and spells major trouble for aquatic creatures when it enters storm drains and washes into the Pacific.
  • Keep kids in touch with nature. Take a hike along the LA River or visit the Ballona Wetlands and see how many different species of birds you can name. Put your kids in charge of their own corner of a drought-tolerant, pesticide-free garden. Participate in a cleanup. Whether you canvass the neighborhood to pick up trash or remove litter from our beaches and streams, a cleanup is a powerful way to show kids that they can make a difference in keeping our waterways pollution-free.
  • Learn about water pollution prevention. LA Stormwater has great educational materials – from activity books and posters to a DVD and a curriculum – for teachers and students. Visit our online library to see what’s available for your LA-based school. We also have teacher packets! Send us an e-mail at LAStormwater@LACity.org or call (800) 974-9794 (option #3) to request materials.
  • Go on a field trip. Encourage your class to learn more about keeping our local waters clean by visiting one of LA’s aquariums or learning centers for some hands-on education. The Aquarium of the Pacific, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Roundhouse Aquarium on the Manhattan Beach Pier and  the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium are great places to teach children that every day actions have a profound impact on the health of our oceans. The Environmental Learning Center and Discovery Cube LA offer children an interactive environmental experience and everyday lessons in sustainability.

 

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