Sustainability Superheroes blog
Using Decision-making and Entrepreneurial Thinking
Happy New Year from Sustainability Superheroes! It’s the start of a new decade, which means it’s time to start adopting new, positive habits and make a difference not only for ourselves but for our planet.
Making a few small changes here and there can make an impactful difference for the world. Whether you’re implementing these in your lesson plans, projects or just general classroom housekeeping, these sustainable practices will work in any classroom setting for any grade and subject!
1. Avoid buying supplies.
Buying new school supplies for your classroom can be an exciting and refreshing start to the new year. However, part of being sustainable is purchasing less products that contribute to mass production. Look for scissors, glue sticks, markers, crayons, pencils and pens around your home. Everyone has a few extra supplies hiding somewhere. Ask students to bring their own supplies from home if they have any, and use supplies from past semesters.
2. Save energy.
It’s important to find as many ways as possible to cut down energy usage in the classroom. Thankfully, there are quite a few! If you have classroom computers or laptops, tell your students to shut them down if they are not in use. At the end of each day, have one or two students check that every computer is shut off. Unplug any projectors, televisions or interactive whiteboards when you’re finished. Even when these devices are off, they can still be using electricity while still in the wall.
Last but not least, don’t forget to turn off all lights! Allow a student to be in charge of turning the lights off. You could even keep them off all day and let the sun do the work.
3. Have a scratch paper bin.
Use a large plastic container or a cardboard box to let students store their unused paper or leftover craft supplies. This teaches kids the importance of reusing, repurposing and minimizing waste. Plus, you don’t have to worry about buying as many supplies. If it starts to get too full, have your students do a design challenge where they can create a solution to a sustainability problem. Another idea is to have your students use the materials to create an art project about sustainability problems or solutions.
4. Create a waste station.
Use three separate bins or containers to create a waste station for your students. One should be used for trash, another used for cans and bottles, and finally, a bin to recycle paper. This is a great way to teach kids how to be mindful of what they throw away.
Don’t forget to remind them to rinse out cans and plastic before tossing them, and always leave the bottle caps on. Encourage them to do the same at home and maybe even let them bring in pictures to show how they organize waste. They can use those pictures to create posters, memes or social media posts.
5. Classroom Compost Bin
If you’re going to have a waste station, you might as well have a compost bin, too! When plant and animal matter decomposes, it creates compost, which can be used to enrich garden soil. Use it on the school garden, or find a nearby community garden that will take it. For example, some schools have been collecting food waste from the cafeteria and creating compost bins for their school gardens.
This can be done easily with an empty bin, your students’ lunch scraps and a few other materials. To find out more about composting in the classroom, check out our Waste Not Want Not resource page here: https://www.sustainabilitysuperheroes.org/waste-not-want-not.html
As busy teachers, it’s understandable that incorporating sustainable practices in the classroom might require an extra step. However, the activities in this list are quite simple and don’t require too much extra work or time. Make these a part of your new year’s resolutions and think green!
If you have an idea you'd like to share with us, message us on our social platforms (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @usfstavros) or email Deborah Kozdras firstname.lastname@example.org .