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How To Go Green In The Classroom

Updated on February 28, 2013

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."

Everywhere we turn we are bombarded with terms like eco-friendly, global warming, and go green. They are splashed on the news and can be found on labels for foods and other products. With all the terms and products out there it can be very confusing for any adult. Which light bulbs are more energy efficient? Is grass fed beef really better than regular beef? Even famous politicians are getting in on the act. Al Gore brought to light some very real concerns regarding the treatment of our planet and what we can do about it with the movie, An Inconvenient Truth. With all theses terms floating around, the solution can seem hard to accomplish and most people just opt to do nothing or the bare minimum. Unfortunately, the next generation who will be responsible for taking care of our planet will follow our lead and do as we do. That is why I believe it is important to start teaching our children at a young age easy ways they can begin to help. Below is a list of very simple ideas that can be implemented in a classroom.

Have a recycling bin in the classroom or in your kitchen

It is said that the average human produces 4.6 pounds of trash a day and 80% of items in landfills can be recycled. Teachers can help students in the class learn to sort objects that are recyclable which cuts down on unnecessary trash. Parents can also do the same at home with their children. My kids love to help out and sort the items that can be recycled and they also help me take the items to the recycling bin.

Recycle crayons into art projects
Recycle crayons into art projects

Re-use empty water bottles and other “trash” in the classroom.

With over 1 billion water bottles ending up in landfills per year, it is important to recycle them and lessen the space they take up in our trash. Plastic can take up to 1000 years to disintegrate which means they don’t go anywhere and are continually leaking chemicals into the soil. There are many great craft ideas for water bottles. Empty yogurt containers can be used to hold paint, water, and other materials regularly used in the classroom. Old crayons can be used in a variety of different ways. What is perceived as trash can in fact have many other uses in a classroom.

Pick up trash on the playground and around your neighborhood.

Take the kids out on a walk each holding their own bag and have them pick up any garbage they find along the way. Then once in the classroom they can separate the recyclables from the trash. Parents can take their children on an evening walk around the neighborhood to pick any trash they see along the way. This is a great way to get out of the classroom and take an active role in helping the environment.

Encourage children to use one paper towel after washing their hands.

Using only one paper towel cuts down on the amount of paper used which has other far reaching effects besides cutting down on trash. Using less paper towels cuts down on the amount of trees being chopped down. Everyone knows that trees are essential to our environment and are being cut down at a rapidly growing rate. If it is feasible in your school, use towels and other re-usable resources instead of paper towels in the bathrooms.

Have a light helper in the class.

Every time we leave the classroom and the bathrooms, the light helper turns off the lights to conserve energy in our school. This also saves money on the electric bill. Teach your children at home that when they leave a room, they should shut off the lights. Lights and other electronic devices don't need to be running if no one is using them.

At the end of the day, turn up the air conditioning and un-plug any electronic devices in the room.

Turning up the AC will also help save on the electric bill and cut down on energy use. Many electronic devices, even when turned off, can still use electricity so un-plugging them makes sure no energy is being wasted. These can also be done at home. Un-plug toasters, computers, and other devices when not in use. Another way to conserve energy is to turn the AC up when you leave the house. Before I go to work in the morning, I turn the thermostat up so it is not constantly running when no one is home.

Encourage parents and children to use thermos bottles for water and re-usable containers for lunch items.

Reusable lunch containers cut down on the amount of plastic bags used and can save parents money in the long run. Kids will love being able to pick out containers they like!

In Summary

I recently saw what is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch swirling in the Pacific Ocean. This is 3.5 million tons of trash, roughly double the size of Texas, sitting out in the middle of the ocean. The trash sitting out there is leaking chemicals into our waters and harming ocean life. We need to realize the actions we take today have an impact on the planet of tomorrow. Implementing the ideas above may not seem like a lot compared to the enormity of the problem but it is a good way to start teaching our children the importance of taking care of the Earth.

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