School-aged kids have a natural instinct to care about the environment, and they often become passionate about eco-friendly efforts. Harness their enthusiasm and creativity in your classroom by encouraging everyone to become more “green.” A green classroom not only reduces your school’s carbon footprint, but it also encourages the next generation to become good stewards of the environment.
Make Conserving Electricity a Game
Taking steps to conserve electricity is an important way to reduce your classroom’s energy burden. An online calculator, such as the one at the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency website, can help your students estimate the energy needs of your classroom. Then, come up with a green action plan. Perhaps you can open shades and turn off lights in the middle of the day, switch off computers rather than allowing them to idle, or lower the thermostat by a degree or two during the winter. These small measures encourage students to become more conservation-minded in their own homes.
Create a Recycling Center
Put the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra into action by creating a classroom recycling center. Assign one or two classroom recycling monitors each week to be in charge of collecting and recycling materials (make sure they’re cleaned first). You can also create a box for recycled scratch paper. Then, track the weight of your recycled materials each week. Monitoring progress on a graph on the wall helps students stay motivated throughout the year.
Choose Environmentally Conscious School Supplies
Many teachers and parents don’t realize that common school supplies can be hard on the environment. For example, liquid glue contains solvents that make it toxic for the environment. Similarly, conventional crayons contain petroleum. When purchasing supplies for the year, opt for eco-friendly versions. You may also consider sending a newsletter outlining the classroom’s green initiatives and asking parents to consider more environmentally conscious options when doing their back-to-school shopping.
Change Cleaning Products for a Greener Clean
Classrooms are home to millions of germs, and conventional cleaning products are notoriously tough on the environment. Many conventional cleaners contain ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other chemicals considered “volatile organic compounds,” or VOCs. When these chemicals enter the waterways, they cannot be removed by waste treatment plants and negatively affect the environment. Instead, choose greener cleaning supplies to wipe down desks and clean up classroom spills.
When looking for school supplies that are friendly to Mother Earth but won’t break your budget, choose School Specialty. There are more than 110,000 products to choose from; many designed specifically to reduce environmental impact.