Teachers: 15 Ways to Green Your Classroom

You might already be teaching your students about the importance of environmental stewardship with lessons from our free K-8 environmental curriculum. Why not bring the message closer to home by turning your classroom or school into the ultimate sustainable spot? Here are few tips and tricks to get you started:

For an eco-friendly facility...

  • Try to keep the temperature in your classroom reasonable to save energy. Let students know the temperature in advance, so they can dress accordingly.
  • If you need to purchase new computers, TVs or other appliances, consider Energy Star-rated options.
  • Keep a few plants on your classroom windowsills to improve air quality.
  • Encourage recycling by purchasing separate bins for bottles, cans and paper waste.

For a greener lunchtime...

  • Suggest that students bring their lunches in reusable containers and sip from reusable water bottles.
  • Ask your school to source sustainable food for cafeteria lunch, including locally grown or Rainforest Alliance Certified™ produce.
  • If your school has a garden, consider placing a compost bin for organic material in the cafeteria and creating fertilizer from lunchtime waste.

To maximize technology...

  • Put classroom computers in sleep mode, rather than using screensavers when they are not in use. You can reduce energy use by 60 to 70 percent.
  • Plug classroom electronics into a power strip and turn the power strip off at the end of each day. By doing so, you can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent.
  • Make your syllabi available online, rather than printing paper copies.
  • Allow students to submit papers and exams electronically.

To minimize paper waste...

  • Print handouts, instructions and exams on double-sided paper and make your margins smaller. Encourage students to do the same.
  • Use recycled or Forest Stewardship Council / Rainforest Alliance Certified paper.
  • Have a designated spot for recycling paper and scrap paper in your classroom.
  • When possible, consider using the same edition of a textbook so that students can buy their books used. The difference between two textbook editions often is negligible.
Guatemalan girls - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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