Going green and looking after the environment is something we should all have in mind at all times. That means making sure little ones are aware of the effect they can have on the environment, and the carbon footprint they are leaving on this Earth. As parents, school teachers and educators of any kind, it is important to encourage them to work toward sustainable, eco- friendly habits, both at home and in school. Therefore, here are 5 steps that can be taken in order to achieve a sustainable classroom:
1) Reuse! Reduce! Recycle!
Yes, we’ve all heard this one before – but that doesn’t mean it’s not important! It’s imperative to instill a habit of recycling in your classroom, as this is no doubt behaviour that kids will bring home with them as well. Perhaps coordinate with the rest of the school, find out what their recycling policy is (and if they don’t have one, work towards changing that)! As a teacher, you can appoint a recycling officer or monitor within the class, giving one kid the responsibility of ensuring that this takes place. You can even rotate this role throughout the weeks.
Other small things that can be done include using recycled paper for note-taking, art classes, and anytime it is possible to do so. Get kids in the habit of using both sides of a piece of paper, and not throwing away pages that have lots of blank space left on them. Try to assign online worksheets for the kids to complete using computers at home as opposed to killing trees in order for them to do their homework.
2) Pick The Right Furniture
It’s a great idea to browse kids furniture online in order to select high quality, eco-friendly items with which to decorate the classroom. Investing in products of high quality contributes to sustainability in the long run, especially when it comes to maintenance and repairs. It’s great to have items of furniture that have parts that are easily replaced, so that if the piece gets damaged (kids do have a habit of wrecking things after all!), the whole product doesn’t go to waste. It’s also good if the classroom furniture is flexible, so that it can be reconfigured for different lessons to suit the curriculum. For example, cubby houses are a convenient option for younger kids classrooms as they are easily moved around, used for different activities and can be dismantled when necessary.
Durability is always a plus point, as it means a longer life rather than being dumped in a landfill, with a need for new products to be manufactured.
3) Save Energy Whenever You Can
One very important thing to take note of when trying to be sustainable, is to be cautious of the amount of energy you are using. When devices such as computers and printers are not in use, completely shut them down. You may want to appoint a class representative, or have a rotating roster of students who ensure the lights and electrical equipment are turned off. However, it is still definitely recommended that as a teacher you check that this is done properly!
Make sure windows are completely shut if the air conditioner or heater are on. It’s also a great idea to use energy efficient light bulbs, if the school isn’t already doing that!
4) Snack Time Is Important Too
In preschool and younger kids classrooms, if snacks are provided be wary of what they are. Especially if you are providing for a substantial number of children, snacks may involve unnecessary additional packaging made of non-biodegradable materials. You know what that means? It’s simply adding to the landfill! Encouraging kids to eat healthy is not only great for their bodies, but also for their planet. Fresh products are the way to go for snack time!
5) Go Green With Learning Content
Besides simply implementing green practices in the classroom, it’s important that you are teaching the kids significant information about the world, and the impact they have on it. This is easy to weave throughout lessons, particularly science classes. School incursions for the kids are a great way to provoke interest in learning about nature and sustainability. Instill in them the desire to transform the world around them, so they feel empowered and able to effect change. That way, you’re inspiring a whole new cohort of kids who will grow up to have a positive impact on our mother Earth.
So there you have it – 5 ways to bring green into your school, and run a sustainable classroom!