Tops tips for going green in the classroom

Over recent years there’s been a clear shift in attitudes towards the environment and people’s social and environmental conscience. The younger generation are more socially and environmentally aware than ever, and with the effects of our actions becoming clearer all the time, it’s important that we all take responsibility and do what we can to ensure our actions are environmentally friendly.

So, in line with this year’s Global Recycling Day on 18 March, we’d like to share some top tips for how you can create a greener classroom and encourage your students to get involved.

  1. Ramp up the recycling

Encourage students to recycle as much as possible. Teach them about the importance of recycling and make it easy for them to get involved by doing things such as creating a clear recycling bin/zone within the classroom and the wider school. You could even set a project for students to create something out of old packaging from the school’s supplies and make it into a competition. Lovetoknow has some great examples of school recycling projects.

  1. Encourage the use of reusable lunch items

Water bottles, lunch boxes, cutlery, straws. You name it, there’s a reusable alternative. Encourage your students to use these alternatives when they bring in their packed lunch to reduce the amount of plastic waste. It will also please the parents too, as reusable alternatives will save money in the long term!

  1. Get digital

Consider how and where electronics can be incorporated into learning environments to reduce the reliance on paper. The world is becoming so digitally focused now, that not only will this reduce the need for paper, it’ll instil those all-important digital skills into your learners from an early age. If print outs are needed, print double sided and reduce margin sizes so less paper is used.

  1. Switch it off

When things aren’t in use (classroom lights, digital devices, etc) turn them off - this can save energy by up to 70%. You can even turn this into an activity by getting students to help with creating signs and posters to put around the classroom and communal spaces to remind people to ‘switch it off’; it’s a fun, creative activity and can help reinforce the message while they’re doing it.

  1. Encourage swaps / borrowing

People often want what others have, so why not take this as a positive and encourage students to borrow or swap things that they no longer need or want, rather than going out and buying it brand new?

  1. Bring the outdoors in

Create a green space in the classroom with plants and flowers. Not only is this a pretty feature, it has health benefits too as it can improve air quality, and it can also be used as a learning tool. If there’s lack of space in the classroom, explore the option for a dedicated patch somewhere on school grounds, where students can plant things and watch them grow.

  1. Get crafty

Turn an art class into an upcycling opportunity – get students to bring in something from home and turn something old into something new. There are plenty of upcycling ideas you can find online, or your learners could come up with their own creative ideas!

  1. Take a look at the office

Teaching sustainability needs to start with staff. Could your school switch to more sustainable supplies? Could more admin be done electronically? Have you looked at the temperature of the buildings? Going green isn’t just about teaching it to the next generation, it’s also about practising what you preach. So if you choose to implement any of the above in your classroom, it’s also important to look at the school as a whole so everyone can make a contribution to making schools greener.

Final thought…

You’ll get the most out of these tips if you can truly embed them across your whole school and not confine them to one classroom space. This will help reinforce messages and encourage conversations within and around your school, many that students can use in their everyday lives.

It’s said that humans have changed the world in unprecedented ways, so let’s keep the conversation going and see how we can turn our impact on the environment into a positive; and the key to this is teaching the younger generation.

The Young People’s Trust For The Environment has some great resources for teaching students how to reduce their carbon footprint.

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