Adults are putting forth eco-friendly efforts and participating in green initiatives, but it takes cooperation from everyone to make a lasting difference. Actually, teachers and education professionals across the nation are learning to reduce their carbon footprint and find green alternatives. In addition, schools are full of opportunities to limit their environmental impact. Not only will they benefit from going green, but it will also teach the next generation to care for our planet.
Reuse in the classroom
Firstly, reuse in classrooms is an easy step to move towards a more eco-friendly school. Have students help brainstorm ideas that will eliminate waste. If the whole class gets involved, your green initiatives will be more successful. In fact, tracking your progress as a class helps students visualize their impact and engage with the progress. Encourage students to reuse household items for art and science projects. Also, newspapers are perfect to create art or prevent the messes of future artists. Additionally, cardboard boxes offer great support to build bridges in science experiments. Empty shoe boxes can be used as classroom storage. Old homework assignments make great scratch paper.
Every year classrooms acquire an impressive supply of crayons, markers and colored pencils. Even though it might be an uphill battle, try and convince children that they don’t need to buy all new supplies every year. Reusing these tools saves money and is better for the planet. For teachers, purchase dry erase markers that you can refill and reuse to minimize plastic waste.
Quick fix tips
Second, open windows when the weather is nice for a simple, energy efficient change. Next, turn off lights and electronics when they’re not in use to reduce energy use. Switch out light bulbs for eco-friendly alternatives. Adding some plants around the building can improve air quality and reduce stress while reminding students to value natural resources. Research options for supplies made of recycled materials. School districts are naturally moving away from paper use as technology develops, but everyone can be more intentional about going digital. Look for ways to cut back on paper use.
Third, encourage parents to organize carpools with friends and neighbors. Families who live close to the school can create a group to ride bikes or walk to school together. Ride sharing options and other methods have been successful over the years. These eco-friendly steps can also help after school traffic run more smoothly by reducing the number of cars outside the building.
In addition, lunchtimes are another area where schools can eliminate waste and reduce their environmental impact. Set up recycle stations to teach kids how to separate food waste from recyclable plastic and trash. Buy locally as much as possible. Participate in Meatless Mondays, an international campaign to reduce meat consumption. Interestingly, research shows that meat production and meat products have a negative environmental influence. Teach students and parents how to pack eco-friendly lunches. Reusable lunch boxes and water bottles eliminate the need for paper bags and plastic bottles. Avoid individually wrapped foods that add to landfills.
Green school construction
New schools have learned from green initiatives and are being built on eco-friendly foundations. Floors are made from recycled glass and large windows are installed for natural lighting. Solar panels are becoming standard for new school construction. These panels are a cost-effective way to provide clean, renewable energy for the building. They also provide a great learning opportunity for students. Many teachers in these schools are working the building’s sustainable features into hands-on lesson plans.
There are many possibilities for parents, students and teachers to make a difference in their communities. Everyone can contribute to green initiatives that benefit our planet. Schools are leading efforts to reduce environmental impact and teach the next generation about sustainable living. Young minds are the future, and working together we can build them an environmentally friendly one.