Sustainability Superheroes blog
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You probably didn’t realize that many of the household items and containers you throw away can actually be reused for you and your students. Many items can be used for organizing materials, projects, arts and crafts and more.
Demonstrating these eco-friendly habits to students teaches them to be more environmentally aware, which helps support sustainability efforts in the long term! You can bring these items in yourself or tell your students to bring them in to really place them in a sustainable headspace. Here are 20 creative ways to reuse and recycle everyday items in the classroom.
All of these items can easily be found in your home, and it only takes one simple step to make a huge difference in sustainability efforts. By using these in your classroom, you are not only helping the environment but also teaching these good habits to students.
Sustainability Superheroes created a workshop where K-12 teachers turned trash into treasure and learned ideas on sustainable projects and activities they can do with their students. See what they learned and created here.
If you would like to attend a workshop, you can register here and see what's coming up next!
Sustainable activities and practices don’t have to be extreme. Yes, you could hop on a boat and sail across the ocean to collect trash, but you can also do something as simple as using a reusable water bottle or creating a sustainable school garden with your students. A sustainable garden is a simple yet impactful step to nurturing the planet for a secure future, and teachers and schools are now implementing these practices for their students.
On 9/16/19, K-12 teachers from all over Tampa Bay visited the USF Stavros Center for the “Sustainability Superheroes in the Garden” workshop where they learned about food production, gardening with schools and how they can incorporate these important lessons into the classroom. The workshop featured a special guest–Brooke Hansen, Director of Sustainable Tourism with the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability and was hosted by Deborah Kozdras, Sherry Moser and Angel Danger with the USF Stavros Center.
Hansen is an anthropologist focusing on sustainability and has had years of research and work experience in food, farming, gardening, indigenous studies, service learning and more. Teachers learned about her background in school gardening, its benefits and how they can be a part of this incredible movement.
Why School Gardens?
Using forward thinking to protect and preserve Earth’s resources is what sustainability is all about, and finding entertaining, interactive ways to teach this to students is essential for the future. Having a school garden is an engaging and empowering learning activity for students because they get the opportunity to be involved creatively with the design of the garden and can have responsibility for its maintenance and care.
The lessons they learn from growing a garden include the positive impacts gardens have on the environment, what greenhouse gas emissions do, health and nutrition, where their food comes from and much more. Plus, it’s great to get students outside doing hands-on activities where they can watch their efforts grow–literally!
The workshop provided teachers with the essential tools, knowledge and information about starting a sustainable school garden, and how they can incorporate these lessons in the classroom. Missed the workshop? Click here to get the complete presentation, lessons plans, instructions, videos and other activities to help you and your students create a sustainable world.
On Thursday 9/5/19, K-12 teachers from all over Tampa Bay attended one of the many Sustainability Superheroes workshops at the USF Stavros Center, where they received training on how they can teach kids about sustainability issues our world is facing.
A crucial part of reaching sustainability is creating and encouraging a circular economy, where items are made, used and recycled. One way to accomplish this is to reuse and/or repurpose household items instead of throwing them away. For example, anyone can find plastic bottles or empty cereal boxes around the house and reuse them for a fun project or a toy. Sustainability Superheroes hosted a Toy Story-themed workshop called “From Trash to Treasure” where teachers discovered how plastic toys and their manufacturing hurt the environment and break the circular economy. The workshop was hosted by Dr. Deborah Kozdras, Chief Creative Officer of the USF Stavros Center, and Angel Danger from Hillsborough County Schools.
Teachers started by sorting and categorizing toys while discussing how their physical properties and manufacturing promote the threatening linear economy where items are made, used and disposed, which negatively affects the planet. According to the Tara Ocean Foundation, 8 million tons of plastic wash into the sea worldwide each year, and by 2050, it is predicted that plastics will outweigh fish in the ocean.
It was finally time to close the loop and start repurposing by making toys. Teachers designed and constructed their own versions of Toy Story 4 character, Forky, out of plastic bottles, forks, spoons, cups and leftover craft supplies. Using what most people call trash can actually be turned into treasure!
Teachers showed their talent and creativity in arts and crafts and were having a fantastic time. There were so many incredible variations of the Forky character, including Hurricane Dorian! (pictured below) This helped teachers gain inspiration on activities and ideas they can use with their students that are not only fun, but also teach them to get creative with their toys and use sustainable methods.
Doing activities like this with your students or children at home are essential to promoting a circular economy, which leads us to a world with less waste and healthier environments.
The USF Stavros Center has plenty more workshops coming up, so be sure to visit https://www.usf.edu/education/stavros-center/programs/ to attend and be a Sustainability Superhero! If you missed the Toy Story workshop, check out our resources page here where you can have full access to lesson plans and videos on plastic pollution and manufacturing.