Incorporating Green Practices Into Your Classroom

Nicole Mathew
Curriculum Specialist
Blog on May 18 2022

The average American produces over 4 lbs of trash a day, which can culminate in up to 56 tons per year.1 While many of us try to recycle as much as possible, not all of our recyclables are deemed worthy by receiving facilities, or are discarded for other reasons. Estimates by experts vary when it comes to the actual amount that gets discarded. Often, these materials end up in landfills because we throw them away instead. In New York City, for example, residents recycle only 17% of their total waste2, according to GrowNYC. So, how can we be more mindful and help reduce our environmental impact?

Classroom waste audits

Having students complete a waste audit of the classroom can be a powerful awareness tool and help  them  incorporate more green practices into the learning space. In a waste audit, students collect all of the trash containers around the room at the end of the day, class period, etc. The students weigh the trash and separate them into categories like recyclables, landfill items, compost, and reusables. The separated categories are also weighed. The audit can be done over the course of several school days or weeks, depending on your schedule and goals. This can also be something that students can come together for and do as a class. For example, every student can be assigned a day to sort and assess trash. This process may look a little different if the school already has recycling programs  in individual classrooms. Students and teachers should also confirm if recycle bins are being disposed of by the school in the appropriate manner.

School projects reimagined

Students complete dozens of projects over the course of a school year for various classes. That means in the average school building, hundreds of projects are being completed annually, and are potentially contributing to this growing global trash problem. Many of these projects start with new materials that students end up throwing away. Rather than providing consumable materials for students, encourage them to save and reuse items that otherwise would be discarded. There are many reusable  items that would make for great craft supplies and building materials. These include plastic bottles, takeout containers, aluminum cans and bottles, shipping boxes, packaging materials, bubble wrap, food packaging, empty paper towel/toilet paper rolls, disposable tableware , scrap paper, broken binders, empty markers, and other discarded classroom supplies. All of these practices can bring awareness to students about the waste they produce, and how they can make smarter choices that benefit the health of our one and only Earth.

To explore more green ideas for the classroom, check out our companion course Recycling Robots, or check out free activities like “How Can I Help the Environment?” in the Lessons & Activities section of OTIS.

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.



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