Is it possible? Can we actually not use 3 million trees a day?
Well 3 million is an exaggeration but you understand what I mean. Teaching is not exactly the most environmentally friendly profession.
Going waste free as an individual is difficult, but as a teacher it seems impossible as you also have to account for 20-30 other individuals. BUT you can make some changes in the classroom that can move towards going waste free.
Here are some of my top switches to make this year to reduce waste in the classroom!
1) Go paperless
She said what?
You heard me, no more paper.
We are moving towards being able to do this through the use of computers and internet in the classroom. We no longer have to hand out worksheets to students only to have them lost or pasted into a book, never to be viewed again. Many schools in NSW now have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program in place or provide students with a personal device to use. In this case, why not have the students access worksheets that way? That way, there is no actual way for the students to lose the sheets, and they can work on things from home.
In the case where there is no BYOD program in place, there are a few options. We are reaching an age where most students have access to a computer and the internet at home, so perhaps you can upload the work onto an online classroom (Google Classroom is an excellent tool, there is even an app for that!).
These two tips would eliminate the need for paper printouts which will end up in the bin anyway. We all know what kids are like these days.
In the case where paper usage does happen, there will be scraps of paper that need to be recycled. Why not compost them instead? This way you will be giving back to the environment and aiding the growth of trees which provide beautiful clean air to the world. For the paper that you don’t use, give it back.
3) Bring your own lunch
This applies to you personally, but I see a lot of teachers buying their lunch at the canteen and it makes more sense to me to pack my own. If I pack my own lunch I have control over the ingredients and I have the ability to control the packaging as well.
In the event of a class party, I like the idea of making things to bring to class in a reusable container rather than taking packets of chips, lollies etc. Of course you need to be wary of children’s allergies and food intolerance situations if you choose to do this.
4) Bulk classroom supplies
When it comes to supplies like pens, pencils, glue and scissors, students regularly forget to bring them and often need to borrow them from you. I personally have a supplies tub that contains spares of the things that I can lend to students, but I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste that this involves.
I like to use pencils rather than pens for when students need to borrow a writing utensil, as these are made of wood and can be recycled easily. I buy a darker pencil, usually a 2B so that students can actually see what they are writing. I have a metal pencil sharpener for the students to use and I replace the blades whenever I need.
As for glue, I am looking into making my own glue to put into glass jars that students can apply with a brush. Message me here if you would be interested in hearing how this goes.
I am in need of new pairs of scissors, so I’m thinking I will buy fully metal ones (without plastic handles).
Hopefully these tips helped. Going waste free is definitely a struggle but when you see how much of a difference it makes it is certainly worth it!