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Reducing Waste in the Classroom

Clean Up Australia Day is coming up this weekend. The day gives us an opportunity to think about what we can do in our own lives to reduce the amount of waste we are creating. While we often consider how we can do this at home, it’s also important to look into how we can reduce waste at school. So here are five tips for reducing waste in the classroom.

Use less paper

Reducing the amount of printing we do is a great way to reduce waste in the classroom. We can try cutting down our printing by using digital resources instead of physical resources. At Teacher PD, we offer digital versions of many of our resources, why not use these instead of printing them?

However, we know sometimes printing is unavoidable. When you do need to print resources, try printing them double-sided to reduce the amount of paper being used. This can effectively halve your paper usage, which adds up over time.

Recycle

Recycling is a great way to dispose of old paper resources in an environmentally sustainable way. When paper is recycled, it is broken down and made into a pulp. This product then gets reused in a number of ways, including being made into more printing paper, packaging and even furniture. The best part about recycling paper is that when the new products are made, it uses half the energy and 90% less water than making paper products from raw materials.

Reuse

You can also reuse items in your classroom to reduce waste. If you are a Food Tech teacher, consider saving old jam jars and other safe containers and reusing them as stationery holders. You could place your pens in them on your desk, or you could even place them in your draw to organise your paperclips, pins, and even USBs. Some teachers are also using old cans, plastic bottles, and even strawberry containers as planters for Technology Mandatory Agriculture and Food Technologies.

There is also a fantastic way to reuse any old of your old paper resources. Any paper which is blank on one side can be cut into notebooks. All you need to do is cut the paper down to A5 size and secure them together with a clipboard or bulldog clip. These notebooks are perfect for sitting on your desk, and they are always there when you want to write a to do list or quickly need to jot something down. You’d be surprised how many notebooks you can make with just a few old work booklets!

Use as much of materials as possible

Practical lessons are notorious for producing lots of waste, so why not challenge your cherubs to cut down their waste as much as possible? You can implement a waste challenge for pracs in subjects such as Textiles, Food Technology and even Woodwork, where the students try to have the least amount of waste possible. Have them collect their waste in a container and weigh it at the end of the lesson. The student or group with the least amount of waste wins the challenge.

Take your lunch in re-useable containers

Using re-useable containers for your lunch can help you to reduce waste in your classroom, and even better, it can help you save money. Using re-useable containers means you don’t need to wrap your lunch in cling wrap or use plastic resealable bags, which can also be damaging to the environment. Another way to reduce the use of single-use plastics is to buy a re-useable drink bottle. These bottles can be used hundreds of times over, saving so much plastic from being sent to landfill.

Not only are you being environmentally friendly and saving your hip pocket by using re-useable lunchboxes and drink bottles, but you are also setting a good example for your students. Hopefully they will follow your lead when they see you using re-useable containers for your lunches.

When implementing all these tips in your classroom, it is also important to discuss the importance of reducing waste with your students. The repetitious message of reduce, reuse, recycle is bound to get through to them, and will make them consider reducing their own waste.

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