Home Schooling and Your Carbon Footprint

While home schooling is not an option for most, in recent years during the COVID pandemic it was necessary, but while many may think negatively about home schooling, have you ever stopped to consider the impact mainstream education has on your carbon footprint and your budget?

Back when my child was young for about 9 years (yes, 9 long years, and this was before self-isolating for COVID was a thing), I worked my business around home-schooling my child, and back in the earlier days of our adventure we looked at the topic of human impact on animal habitat and the Earth (that is their project in the picture above). We also looked at climate change and discussed what ‘carbon footprint’ meant. Later for fun we did a comparison exercise when it came to ‘going’ to school vs ‘schooling at home’.

Here is what we observed . . .

  1. I saved on petrol and car wear and tear and thus pollution, by not having to get to school every day (whether by car or public transport). I didn’t have to travel to school for teacher meetings. I didn’t have to waste their electricity providing me a meeting or for my child’s classroom. All correspondence was done via email or phone.
  2. I didn’t have to buy school uniforms or bags etc. or replace those that went missing. Imagine the saving on carbon footprint by cutting out the need for production of such items?
  3. We didn’t have to buy school lunches – either to pack or to purchase at the school tuck-shop, thereby reducing the need for packaging and the need to freeze ice-bricks to keep lunches cool. It also eliminated food being brought home ‘un-eaten’ due to the ice bricks not doing their job, or because my child didn’t eat the food. Making lunch at home ensured a healthy diet and nothing was wasted. Scraps are were put straight into the compost or worm farm.
  4. The vegie patch, compost bin and worm farm became part of the ‘home schooling’ curriculum. My child saw a direct correlation, and loved being involved.
  5. Paper wasn’t wasted, it was re-used or shredded immediately. Shredded paper was then either taken to the pet shop (for use in cages), put in the compost, worm farm or mouse cage, or used to pack fragile parcels for posting.
  6. We didn’t need to wrap school books in plastic or contact to preserve their school life. Resources were sent to us via mailed workbooks – and as some were resource library books and audio/visual materials, they were borrowed and returned after use for re-use for future students. Any textbooks purchased were easier to keep in good condition for resale because they weren’t beaten up throughout the school year from transportation in school bags. Over time more and more work was able to be done ‘on-line’, saving even more paper, postage, freight costs, petrol, fumes and time.
  7. We saved money. We didn’t need to ‘re-sell’ uniforms at the end of the year, or feel dreadful if we were unable to ‘re-sell’ them. They didn’t end up going into land-fill and we weren’t contributing to the fossil fuels need to produce them in the first place.
  8. As rental tenants in those days, we never had the luxury of air-con, we couldn’t really afford it and it wasn’t installed in our unit. So if on the rare occasion it got too hot in the house and the ceiling fans gave no relief, we’d go and work at the local library where we used the library’s air-conditioner (which in turn saved our power bill). The library environment also ensured work got done, provided a change of scenery and was close enough to catch a bus and leave the car at home.
  9. The local mainstream school had one less child using their water supply, sewerage, and power. And one less child contributing to the school rubbish ending up in landfill.
  10. We saved on doctor’s bills and were healthier, both physically (because we are exposed to less school yard bugs) and mentally (because school room and school yard stress didn’t exist). We didn’t need as many medicines to get through a school year, nor were we visiting the doctor as often (nor was there a need for head lice treatments!). If you think of the footprint required to make medicines and head lice treatments, including their packaging – it soon adds up, and of course again we didn’t have to ‘drive’ to buy or use any of these things. Needing moments of fresh air, also ensured we’d get out to the park, or the back yard or even the beach for exercise or lunch, or for a different study environment.
  11.  Lastly, we chose to use a brand of computer, which, with each new year, uses more and more eco-friendly components.

And that was just 11 things we came up with, I’m sure there are probably more ways to save.

So, as you can see, home-schooling has the ability to reduce our consumption, our carbon footprint and of course provide us with other benefits as well, but regardless of whether you’re home schooling or not, hopefully there is some food for thought here in how we all go about our daily lives, and look at ways we can all reduce our carbon footprint by revisiting some of our habits and making some better choices on how to go about our daily lives. Not just for a better lifestyle, but for a better, healthier planet to enjoy.

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