How to Make Your Classroom Greener in 3 Steps

As a nation, we’ve begun to realize that many of our current habits are not sustainable. For the past few years, the “Go Green” movement has been charging ahead. And you can go green too — even in your classroom! Not only is it important to go green in order to help save the environment, but it’s also important to teach students by example. A green classroom is a great opportunity for students to become involved in helping to save our planet. So what can you do in your moderate-sized, already very full classroom in order to go green and teach by example? Take a few minutes each day to do your part and reduce, reuse and recycle.

1. Reduce
The biggest step to consider in your classroom is to reduce. Reduce your use of paper by having students share copies of in-class readings with a friend, use the projector to share material with the entire class, have students write answers on individual whiteboards, have them do group assessments where only one member writes down the answers or even have students answer orally. Have fun and get your students involved with a regular, maybe even once a week, paperless day. Some schools have even nearly achieved the vision ofgoing completely paperless through the use of technology, which they have found not only saves their school money, but also helps save trees and the planet at large. Let students be creative in finding ways to get around using paper every day in the classroom. Have students calculate their carbon footprint so that they’re are aware of how their actions affect the environment.

To reduce the use of paper on a daily basis keep track of grades online, let students submit papers and assignments electronically, and use Google Docs’ or Microsoft Word’s “track changes” function to give students feedback and return their papers with grades electronically. Also, when printing anything, make sure to print double-sided. Other ways to reduce and make your classroom greener in the process include: steering clear of season-specific projects that will most likely be thrown away in a month or two; using environmentally-sound cleaning supplies and classroom materials; turning off the classroom lights or even half of the classroom lights when they’re not in use or when natural light is sufficient; unplugging your classroom’s electronics when they’re not in use.

2. Reuse
Another very important step in achieving a greener classroom is reusing. Consider starting a school compost pile and possibly even using that compost to start a garden and keep plants in the classroom. Plants add brightness to a classroom and improve air quality. Bring a mug and water bottle to school to save on plastic bottles and disposable coffee mugs, all while being a positive environmental role model for your students. When you need to use paper, use recycled paper and maybe even try convincing your school to buy only recycled paper for its copy machines and printers.

3. Recycle
Always be sure to recycle. Old technology, paper, cans and water bottles are probably the most common objects that can be recycled. Many simple things can be done on an individual level to turn your classroom into a green one and by taking a little bit of extra time and sharing ideas, you might be able to transform not only your school, but the environment as well.

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