Cheltenham Township Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance that bans the sale or distribution of single-use plastic bags at local retailers. The ban also calls for any paper bag alternatives to contain at least 40% recycled content. There will also be a $0.10 fee on non-reusable alternative bags.

The new law takes effect in January 2024, with retailers getting a 90-day period to realign their merchandise bagging practices. Retailer scofflaws are subject to a fine.

Back to school time does not have to mean more plastic.

Below are our top 5 tips for starting the school year

with as little plastic and waste as possible.

1. Invest in Reusable Foodware For Plastic-Free, Zero-Waste Snacks and Lunches

Plastic sandwich bags, paper lunch bags, plastic water bottles,

and juice boxes do NOT have to be the norm any longer as

there are many wonderful, plastic-free, reusable options

available that will be healthier both foryour child and the planet.

Although Beyond Plastics does not specifically endorse any

particular products, below are some companies whose products

we’ve tried and liked that you can use as a starting point.

Please note that there are many other good choices out there so

please don’t limit yourself to these options.

  * Water bottle. Stainless steel is the best option for kids as

glass is somewhat breakable and tends to be a bit heavier.

Kleen Kanteen, Hydroflask, YETI, and Takeya are just a few of the

many great brands that sell high-quality metal water bottles

(some of which are also insulated) and come with a variety of

tops - straw, sip, screw off, etc. Avoid plastic water bottles, even if they are reusable.

  * Reusable cutlery set. Whether it’s bamboo or stainless steel, a set of reusable cutlery means your child will have all the options. If you’d rather not buy a set of reusable cutlery, you can make your own by gathering a fork, spoon and knife and sewing your own holder - check out this tutorial  https://www.bhg.com/crafts/sewing/how-to-make-diy-utensil-wraps or search for others on Youtube or Pinterest.

  * Metal snack and sandwich containers.The great thing about these is that they last a long, long time, are lightweight and zero waste! Lunchbots makes wonderful all-metal options with various compartments. PlanetBox makes a great stainless steel bento box-style lunch box. UKonserve has several
sizes and shapes of metal containers with heavy duty plastic lids. Many other companies make these kinds of containers, too.

  * Fabric sandwich envelopes or beeswax wrap. These washable options are a great alternative to plastic wrap and plastic sandwich bags. Check out Lunchskins, Abeego, Stasher, and more.

2. Buy In Bulk, Bring Your Own Containers and Shop Local
When it’s time to fill your reusable lunch and snack containers, follow these tips to minimize waste, avoid plastic and support your community.

  * Shop locally.Doing your shopping close by not only reduces your family’s carbon footprint, but you can bring your own bags and containers which is impossible when you’re ordering online. Small businesses also need our support more than ever during the pandemic.

  * Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or shopping at your local farmer’s market.

  * Buy in bulk and bring your own reusable containers. See if your local market, co-op, or health food store has a bulk section and bring your own washable, reusable bags to fill up on fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts,dried fruit, and more. When faced with a choice of packaging, choose glass or paper over plastic.

3. Check Your Office, Shelves, Desk, and Closet for School Supplies Before You Buy
Your teacher has probably given you a specific list of supplies to bring in on the first day or week of school. While you may need to purchase some of the items, there’s a good chance that you already have a bunch of the things on the supply list somewhere in your house. Some of the notebooks, folders, pencils, and other supplies from your child’s last year of school may still be perfectly usable (bonus: those things are already labeled!)
Take a cruise through your closet shelves and office drawers to find notebooks, sketchpads, markers, pencils, pencil sharpeners, folders and more to cut down on how much you have to buy new. Plus, this will save you some money and free up space in your home office or closets.

4. Get New (To You) Clothes By Buying Secondhand

Thrift shops - both in your community, and increasingly, online have excellent used clothing, backpacks, shoes and outerware that your child can get a lot more life out of and sometimes these items are actually unused.
You can visit a local secondhand shop - there’s a Salvation Army or Goodwillin most communities, as well as charity thrift shops and consignment shops. You can also head online to browse the Internet (eBay, Poshmark, and ThredUp are just a few of the options available) for bigger ticket items like backpacks, computer bags, snow boots and winter coats. It should be cheaper than buying these things new, and will help decrease the troubling impacts of “fast fashion” and over-consumption.

When your child has outgrown their clothes, find a relative, friend or neighbor whose kids could use them, or donate them to a charity thrift store in your area. This can work both ways. If you have a relative, friend or
neighbor with a child a little bit older than yours, ask them if their child’s hand-me-downs are already spoken for. Chances are good that many people would feel good about giving you things their kids have outgrown.

5. Use This As An Opportunity To Educate Your Child
No matter whose classroom your child’s been assigned to this year, YOU are

their first and most important teacher. While you’re getting their school supplies

together, make a point of explaining why you’re looking for items that are either

used or can be reused over and over again. Focus on the positive effects of

choosing items thatare made to last and can be used for years to come over

cheaper items that are meant to be used once and then thrown away. Explain

where things go after you put them in the trashcan or recycling bin - if you’re

looking for something to do in the down time between camps closing and

school opening, take your kids on a trip to visit the local recycling center, landfill,

or  transfer station (yes, it will bestinky…) This is a great opportunity to get your

kid thinking about how their own choices can make an impact and begin to cultivate a mindset of refusing single-use and embracing environmental sustainability. We hope your children have a healthy, fun, and learning-filled school year!

Want more tips on how to reduce your and your family’s exposure to plastic and reliance on single-use items: go to beyondplastics.org


by Judith Gratz, Environmental Educator

Reposted by permission of  Beyond Plastics

Photo by Hasty Words from Pixabay


cheltenham chamber of citizens