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Sharing at school - a green idea

Updated on September 9, 2012
Pool school supplies among students to maximize use.
Pool school supplies among students to maximize use. | Source

One of the many things that our kids learn early on is the importance of sharing. This is not only a good social skill, it’s a green skill, too. Sharing items reduces the amount of stuff that needs to be produced, purchased, maintained, stored, and discarded. This translates to cost savings, fewer resources required, and reduced waste. This principle can be used by parents, teachers, and students.


Instead of requiring every student to purchase seldom-used items, create sets to be shared among classes.
Instead of requiring every student to purchase seldom-used items, create sets to be shared among classes. | Source

How teachers can share

  • Create a resource library where books, toys, supplies, and equipment can be checked in and out. Prior to ordering new items, teachers can check the library to be sure that the school doesn’t already own them. This can also be done virtually, with teachers creating and adding to a centralized list of items and their locations.
  • Use the library in addition to or instead of purchasing books for your classroom.
  • Request used items from parents and other teachers before ordering new ones.
  • Create class sets of items that may only be used once or twice such as calculators, thermometers, measuring tapes, protractors to prevent requiring every student to own one.
  • Share magazine subscriptions among classes.
  • Keep class sets of textbooks to be used year after year, instead of having students purchase them. This can be done by asking one year’s students to donate their books for next year’s class.
  • Pool school supplies from students and share them as a class to minimize waste. Rather than opening twenty-five bottles of glue which will dry out by the end of the year. Perhaps only five are needed.
  • At the end of the year, when teachers clear out their rooms, designate a location for teachers to place items they no longer want, then other teachers can take what they like.
  • Think about creating a class party set with reusable cups, plates, silverware to be shared by all classes. Or ask parents to lend these items then take them back and clean them at home.
  • Encourage parents to create costumes for performances out of used or shared items, then ask them to donate ensembles for use the following year, if it’s a recurring event.
  • Share space. Use scheduling to maximize the use of all of the spaces at your school. It costs to maintain space whether it’s being used or not. Allowing outside groups to use the school after hours, on weekends, and during the summer can generate extra money for your school.

A book swap is a good way for used books to find new owners.
A book swap is a good way for used books to find new owners. | Source

How students can share

  • Hold a school swap-meet, where students can bring in used toys, books, or clothes to exchange with others.
  • Buy only the supplies that you need. Save leftovers for next year or donate them to kids in need.
  • Check the lost and found for your lost items before buying new ones and be sure to put your name in all of your items to facilitate their return.
  • Ask friends to pass down used textbooks, books, uniforms, supplies, and sports equipment that they no longer need. Pass down your own.
  • Trade books or toys with friends temporarily to try out something new instead of buying it.

Families or neighbors can share infrequently used items such as boats or camping, snorkeling, or ski equipment.
Families or neighbors can share infrequently used items such as boats or camping, snorkeling, or ski equipment. | Source

How parents can share

  • Consider renting or borrowing seldom-used tools instead of buying. Let neighbors know what tools you have to share.
  • Use your neighborhood email list to offer items to lend or request items to borrow.
  • Check books out from the library instead of purchasing.
  • Offer to lend items to the school for parties and special projects so they don’t have to purchase them.
  • Use thrift stores to purchase items at nominal cost, then re-donate them for someone else to purchase when you no longer need them.
  • Sell and buy used items at re-sale shops. Books, sports equipment, baby items, and clothing can earn you extra money, save someone else some money, gain you some extra closet space, and reduce the amount of goods produced in general.
  • Rent or share seldom-used items such as RV’s, small boats, fishing equipment, lawn equipment, camping supplies.
  • When traveling, borrow items such as snorkeling equipment, ski and cold-weather gear, camping items, and even luggage. You can bring back a small gift to thank them, or offer them something of yours to borrow on their next trip.
  • Look for opportunities to lend folks items that you don’t use often.

Our culture often discourages lending and borrowing, but this practice builds community and saves money and resources, so consider making it a part of your effort to live a greener life.


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