Schools generate an enormous amount of trash each day. According to wastefreelunches.org the average child generates 67 pounds of trash a year and that’s just during lunch time. Imagine the other trash that’s discarded by school children, teachers and employees during the other five to six hours of a normal school day. Over the course of 13 years that amount is staggering. Fortunately there are several things that eco-minded parents, teachers and students can do to help reduce the amount of waste generated by their school and help their financially strapped school in the process.
Eight Things You Can Do To Reduce Waste and Create an Eco-Friendly School
One of the first steps to making your school more eco-friendly by helping to reduce the amount of waste your school generates is to become involved. One of the best ways to get involved is to volunteer as a classroom or office helper and join your schools Parent Teacher Association, otherwise known as the PTA. By attending PTA meetings and working in the classroom you will have a chance to mold the way your school operates by introducing and voting on ideas.
The second step in making your school more environmentally conscious is to organize other parents and teachers who support a green school environment. You can do this by holding a meeting or sending home a flyer informing parents of your desire to make your school more eco- friendly by reducing the waste generated each day. You can ask parents to give you their email address to make communicating with each other eco-friendly and easy. Invite other parents to share their ideas on ways to green your school and then come up with a way to implement your ideas.
Most parents, teachers and students are not fully aware of the sheer volume of waste generated by their school in a single day and may not support your plans. This is where education comes in. Hold a meeting or send home a flyer detailing the amount of trash that is thrown away by your school on a daily basis and why reducing that waste is in every ones best interest. Make sure and outline some of your plans and ask for their help in implementing them.
Implement Sort Bins
One of the easiest things to implement in a school classroom or office is to set up sort bins for classroom waste instead of just dumping everything into one trash can. Have a bin for paper products and cardboard, one for aluminum cans, one for plastic and a one for general trash that can’t be put in any of the other containers. You don’t need to go out and purchase fancy plastic containers to use as sort bins, just reuse cardboard boxes labeled with a permanent marker. For a classroom that has younger children you might also want to include a picture of what goes in each bin. Once the bins are filled arrange to have someone, possibly a classroom volunteer recycle the items in each bin and use whatever money is generated to buy classroom supplies.
Recycle Juice Pouches and Snack Wrappers For Cash
Terracycle has a program where schools can collect juice drink packages and snack wrappers and mail them in to be recycled. For every juice pouch, candy, cookie or chip bag collected Terracycle will pay your school between two and three cents . It doesn’t seem like much at first but once you add the amount up over time you could have a nice amount for your school to purchase sports equipment or much needed supplies. To find out more about this program and sign up your school go to www.terracycle.net .
Help Start A Waste Free Lunch Program
To reduce the amount of trash created at lunch time from the various plastic bags, juice containers and food wrappers start a waste-free lunch program at your school. A waste-free lunch program promotes the use of reusable containers, utensils and water bottles in children’s school lunches. To get started discuss the idea with your schools principal, teachers and PTA to get their support. Then send home a letter to all the parents of the children who attend your school asking for their help in implementing a waste-free lunch. You can get more ideas on how to start this eco-friendly program at your school at www.wastefreelunches.org . This great site even includes sample letters and activities to help you get started.
Start A Jacket Exchange
Its a fact kids are always growing and parents are always buying new clothing for them which generates a lot of waste both in the manufacturing process and discarded clothing that often ends up in a landfill.Many times children outgrow their coats or jackets before they ‘have even got a chance to wear them very long. You can help reduce waste generated from discarded clothing by starting a jacket exchange at your school. To set up a jacket exchange ask the principal for a place where you can store the clothing and then invite parents to donate their children’s coats and jackets that no longer fit to the exchange. Instead of purchasing a new jacket or coat every year parents can exchange their children’s outgrown coats and jackets for one in a larger size.
Start A Curbside Recycling Program
Encourage recycling in your students homes by starting a curbside recycling program. You could announce that on the last Friday of the month you will be collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles during the morning drop off. Have volunteers standing near the curb as parents drop off their children to collect any cans or bottles they might have. To encourage children to participate have a drawing for a prize donated by a local business or hand out restaurant award certificates to everyone who participates in the curbside recycling program. Once you have collected a large amount of cans and bottles have a volunteer take them to be recycled and use the money to purchase items for your school.
The key to reducing the amount of waste generated by your school is to start small and make little changes one at a time so that no one is overwhelmed and children parents and school staff have a chance to adjust to the changes you are making on your quest for a greener school.
Zero Waste Lunch: Getting Serious About Going Green By: Karen Grinstead