Soak Up Summer: Get A Head Start On Back To School

August is the perfect time to soak up the last days of summer vacation, but it’s also a great time to start planning the school year. Make this school year the best yet by preparing early and making strides toward an eco-friendly routine. Whether shopping for school supplies second-hand or volunteering with your school, there are always ways to get involved. This article will highlight specific things you can do to have a sustainable school year as a student, parent, or teacher!

Planning Your Sustainable School Year: Step-By-Step

Getting School Supplies: Reuse. Thrift. Donate.

Supplies are essential to back-to-school preparation, with many teachers giving a detailed list of supplies needed for the upcoming school year. This process can get extremely time and resource-consuming. Luckily, most school supplies can be found around the house, reused from last year, or purchased at your local second-hand shop. Here is a three-step process for getting school supplies sustainably!

Step One: Try To Reuse Unused School Supplies From Last Year

Before going to the store, it’s a great idea to look around the house to see if you or your friends have any gently unused school supplies. This way, you can save money and only buy the things you need. As a parent or student, starting a school supplies swap is a great way to see if you and your friends have anything on each other’s school supplies list. It can be a win-win!

Shop Second-Hand for School Supplies

After seeing what you have at home and deciding what to buy new, we recommend starting your journey at your local second-hand shop or thrift store. They might have some items on your list at a lower price than you can find elsewhere! If you live in Northern Michigan, here are some of our top recommendations near Traverse City and Kaleva:

Kaleva Resale Shop
14407 Industrial Dr, Kaleva, MI 49645
Open Mon-Fri 9 am – 5 pm Sat 10 am – 5 pm

Cherryland Humane Society Thrift
1258 W South Airport Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686
Open Mon-Sat 10 am – 6 pm

Women’s Resource Center
720 S Elmwood Ave #2, Traverse City, MI 49684
Mon-Sat 10 am – 6 pm Sun 11 am. – 5 pm

Goodwill Northern Michigan
2279 W South Airport Rd W, Traverse City, MI 49684
Mon-Sat 9 am – 7 pm Sun 11 am – 6 pm

Donate Supplies You Don’t Use or Need

Now that you have all the school supplies you need, it’s essential to get rid of the stuff you don’t so someone else can use it! Donating unused or gently used school supplies to your local thrift store is a great way to help eco-conscious and low-income families check off items on their shopping lists!

Get Involved: Eco-Friendly Schools & Programs

After getting all the supplies needed for school, it’s important not to stop there and continue thinking about ways to have an eco-friendly school year. One of the best ways to do this is to get involved! Join your school’s conservation club, recycling program, or volunteer at a local organization. You will learn so much about how you can help live a more sustainable lifestyle and meet like-minded people that care about the planet too. If you are local, here are some eco-friendly program options in Northern Michigan:

SEEDS EcoSchool

SEEDs is a non-profit organization and friend of BARC that stands for Sustainable Education for Environmental Development. The program’s mission is to plant the seeds of eco-consciousness in young minds by partnering with schools all over Northern Michigan to get students outside and into nature with their program EcoSchools. This innovative and environmentally focused educational program helps fosters a sense of environmental stewardship and sustainability among students.

Plus, SEEDs EcoSchools is fun with many activities, workshops, and projects that help students learn about climate change, waste reduction, biodiversity, renewable energy, and water conservation. The program also encourages students to get involved in environmental initiatives within the community, like recycling programs, tree-planting drives, energy-saving campaigns, and educational outreach. SEEDs EcoSchools provides teachers with resources, training, and support to effectively integrate sustainability themes into their lessons. If you are an interested student, parent, or teacher, you can learn more about it on their website.

Greenspire School System

Greenspire School is an educational institution in Northern Michigan dedicated to providing an enriching learning experience for students in grades K-12. This public charter school’s core mission revolves around fostering a deep appreciation for the environment, sustainability, and community engagement.

Environmental education is crucial to every aspect of their curriculum. Students are encouraged to explore and understand the natural world through hands-on learning experiences, outdoor activities, and field trips emphasizing environmental stewardship and conservation.
The school’s commitment to sustainability also goes beyond the classroom. Their campus is a living example of eco-consciousness, featuring environmentally friendly infrastructure, renewable energy systems, and sustainable practices. They also emphasize community involvement as students are encouraged to actively participate in community projects, partnering with local organizations like BARC to make a positive impact here in Northern Michigan.

Additionally, Greenspire offers a diverse range of eco-conscious extracurricular activities. Through arts, sports, or outdoor clubs, the school helps foster students with a genuine passion for the environment and a desire to make a difference in the world. If this sounds like something you or someone you know would be interested in, check out their website.

Get Active: Join Or Start Your Own Sustainable School Program

If you want to make a difference for our planet but live far away from Northern Michigan, joining or creating your environment-focused program is a great way to start! Here are a few clubs or programs that might be already offered at your or your child’s school.

Nature Exploration Club

One of the best ways to foster a love for nature is to explore it! Joining or starting an after-school program where you go on nature hikes, observe wildlife, and explore natural areas near you is a great way to discuss local flora and fauna, conservation efforts, and environmental issues.

Eco-Crafts and Upcycling Workshops

At BARC, we love to upcycle materials into useful things like planter boxes and even tiny homes! If this sounds cool to you or your child, attend a local eco-craft and upcycling workshop! These programs teach children creative ways to reuse and upcycle materials to create eco-friendly crafts and artwork.

Community Gardening Club

For those who like to get their hands dirty, a community gardening club is a great way to learn about sustainable agriculture, composting, and healthy eating habits.

Environmental Science and STEAM Labs

Students that love math, science, and the environment should look into their school’s environmental science and STEAM labs. This program combines science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) with environmental education.

Zero Waste Initiatives Club

BARC is focused on creating zero-waste events, a great way to promote eco-friendly habits. Starting or joining an after-school club that raises awareness about waste reduction, recycling, and composting is a great way to help build an eco-conscious community!