Back To School Means Creating New Routines

Whether you’re an educator or caretaker, you can include the 3 R’s- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

Routines are vital to create a safe and consistent before-school experience for most people. But they are difficult to stick with! It is just as important to incorporate responsible reuse of materials and waste reduction for the sake of our planet- and your pocketbook. Hopefully these tips will help you find a little peace and a few more pennies at the start of each day.

Reduce and Reuse: Budget-friendly ways to save time & energy

  • Reusable water bottle: you can pick these up for free at Back to School events all over the city. Kids love to put stickers on them and you don’t have to worry about buying bottled water ever again!
  • Washable food containers: Tupperware or other food storage solutions cut down on plastic bag use and keep lunches organized. Reuse those old jelly jars for yogurt!
  • Rethink what you buy to reduce waste. For example, buy whole carrots and chop them into snack-size pieces. That will save money and eliminate all those plastic bags. They even last longer when kept whole!
  • Buy items with less packaging and get more favorites. For example, instead of Lunchables get a big box of crackers, a pound of ham, a block of cheese, cherry tomatoes and fresh fruit. Chop it all to size and pack it in your reusable containers for the week. It’s less expensive and you have more control over lunch.
  • If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could even try to make your own granola bars. There are lots of recipes online and you can pretty easily modify them to fit your own preferences. Go ahead, add extra chocolate chips- everyone deserve a treat!
  • Get reusable totes of various sizes from the STL City Recycles office (4646 Shenandoah 63110) to bring to the store or to carry your water bottle and lunch for the day.

Keep the (re)cycle going at home and school!

Now that we’ve eliminated a lot of waste by stocking up on reusable storage containers and water bottles, let’s prevent even more by knowing how to Recycle Responsibly.

  • First things first: get an in-home blue bin and recycling guide from our office (4646 Shenandoah 63110). Studies show that we all do better at recycling when we have a dedicated bin at home.
  • Put your STL City Recycles magnet on your fridge and the 101 sign above your bins so everyone can see what goes where and you don’t waste any time repeating yourself.
  • Remember that plastic bags and film go back to the grocery store for recycling so keep those out of the blue bin and in their own separate spot- in a STL City Recycles reusable tote!
  • Give your recyclables a rinse and let them dry before tossing them in the Blue Bin. They need to be loose, clean and dry.
  • Speaking of paper, take photos of important papers and then recycle them in the Blue Bin to save space and keep organized at school and work.
  • Don’t bag your recycling! Plastic bags are contaminants and get tangled in equipment so keep them out of the Blue Bin.
  • If you’d like to start or continue a school recycling program, please get in touch! We have fantastic options that involve students in the process. (Read more on this next month!)

Food Waste Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO reuse what you can the next day.
  • DO learn from how much gets eaten and pack less (or more) next time.
  • DO NOT throw food waste in the Blue Bin! It belongs in the trash or a compost bin.
  • DO NOT repeat the cycle of packing food that won’t get eaten. Donate it to someone who will eat it instead of wasting it in an unwanted lunch box.
  • DO compost if you can! If you don’t have room for a compost pile at home but have a few bucks to put towards proper food disposal, you can sign up for a compost pickup service ( or drop it off at a place like Food For The People Garden Project where they happily take your kitchen scraps for their compost!

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St. Louis residents recycle 61 lbs of material every minute, but we can still do better. Will you help us recycle even more?


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