What ecological footprint is your homeschooling family leaving on the Earth? As responsible stewards of God's creation, everyone should keep pollution to a minimum by practicing the three Rs of waste management: reduce, reuse, and recycle. So what can you and your children do to help your homeschool environment go green? Using the LIFEPAC 10th Grade Science Unit 9 Worktext from Alpha Omega Publications as a guideline, this ecology, pollution, and energy unit presents ten practical guidelines you can follow as a green homeschool family:

Paper - To save on trees, make sure your children use both sides of notebook paper when completing assignments like computing math problems. Better yet, replace regular school paper with dry erase boards like Horizons Kindergarten Phonics & Reading Wipe-Off Tablet.

Pencils - Since they last much longer, mechanical pencils are the greener choice. However, regular pencils can be used longer by purchasing replacement erasers. Pencils too short to be used for writing can be used to lubricate sticky door locks by scraping the pencil graphite onto your keys and inserting them into the lock.

Markers - If you have an abundant supply of "dried out" regular or permanent markers, don't buy new ones just yet. Try reviving your markers by sticking them in a cup of water point down for eight hours. After removing them from the water, cap and store the markers point down for another 48 hours, and you'll probably have a brand new marker!

To revive dry erase markers, attach a string to the end and spin the marker over your head several times. The centrifugal force moves any remaining ink to the marker tip. Since the ink can pool up in the cap during this process, make sure the lid is on tightly before you begin and remove the cap over a paper towel when you are finished.

Crayons - Save used crayons for creative art projects. A great family fall project is making "stain glass leaves" to decorate your windows. See the procedure below:

1.  Remove the crayons' paper, shave several different fall-colored crayons into pieces with a pencil sharpener, and place the shavings between two pieces of waxed paper.

2.  Press with an iron on a low setting to melt the crayon shavings between the waxed paper.

3.  Take black construction paper and cut into 5" x 5" squares. With two pieces of paper together, trace the outline of a leaf shape on the top square and cut out the shape while holding two pieces together. The finished squares will be solid around the edges with your favorite leaf pattern cut out of the center.

4.  Trim the colored waxed paper to fit between the 5" x 5" squares, and assemble your "sun catcher" by making sure the leaf patterns match up and gluing both squares to the waxed paper. Hang in the window!

Batteries
- Whenever possible, use rechargeable batteries in calculators, microscopes, and other school equipment. Although they cost more, they reduce the need to dispose of batteries that contain toxic chemicals harmful to the environment.

Computers - To save electricity, turn off more than just the lights when you're not in a room. Also, turn off the computer and printer when they're not in use. The easiest way to accomplish this is to install a surge protector and turn off everything with the power switch on the protector.

Field Trips and Park Days - Make events more fun and save gas by sharing rides and carpooling with other homeschooling families for park days, homeschool field trips, or other homeschooling group outings.

Books and Magazines - Spare a tree and recycle magazines and books read for leisure. Start a homeschool group magazine/book swap or donate them to the public or church libraries.

Homeschool Curriculum - Purchase paperless, computer-based curriculum like Switched-On Schoolhouse® that can be used for more than one child. Also, take advantage of opportunities to purchase used curriculum or books from other homeschooling families.

Schoolroom Temperature - Regulate the temperature inside your schoolroom during the winter by pulling shades and drapes at night to hold in the heat and opening them first thing in the morning on sunny days to let solar rays warm your room.

Everybody needs to play a part in conserving and protecting the environment for the enjoyment of future generations. As homeschooling families, we should also do our part to make the world a better place by teaching these practices to our children while they are still young.

How does your homeschooling family keep your ecological footprint small? We'd love to hear about it. Take a minute right now to share your ideas in the comment section listed below!