6 Ways to be Environmentally Friendly in the Classroom
- 10th January 2022
- Anthony Bowie
Whether you’re a teacher or administrator, improving the sustainability of your school can be beneficial. A focus on sustainability can help you can create a healthier learning space, as well as engage students in important environmental principles. Educating students to be more eco-friendly gives them a better understanding of the world, the valuable resources it provides, and how humans affect the environment. Plus, many schools discover that by finding ways to be environmentally friendly, they save money and resources and reduce waste.
Here are six ways to be environmentally friendly in the classroom:
School supplies can be a huge cost for schools and teachers, but many of these supplies get overused or wasted. Try to be more mindful of the supplies you are using and consider alternative options to the supplies you use the most. It’s also important to store your supplies in a place where they won’t get crumpled, bent, or forgotten, such as the EGR Makerspace Cabinet offered by MiEN Company.
Additionally, don’t waste mis-prints or excess copies––especially those on colorful paper! Collect these items in a bin for reuse in student projects, or for when students run out of paper for their work or notes.
Turning off the lights is always a good way to save energy––both in terms of minimizing electricity use and lowering heat output, which in turn helps lower your HVAC usage during warm months. Teachers probably already turn off their lights at the end of the school day when they leave, but encourage students, teachers, and staff to all do their part to be more environmentally friendly by turning off lights every time a room is empty.
Additionally, consider the energy usage of devices that are not being used, and shut down or unplug any systems that can be. This includes turning off the projector at the end of a lesson, unplugging laptop carts that are fully charged, and fully powering down desktop computers when possible.
Outdoor learning has been trending in the education space––and not just because of the greater safety it provides against the spread of COVID-19. Learning opportunities in the outdoors (especially in the warmer climates during the winter months) are both engaging and refreshing for students and offer countless benefits for students’ social and emotional health, as well as improved academic performance. In the outdoors, students are able to experience learning opportunities that can’t be replicated inside the classroom. Plus, they learn about the importance of nature and becoming good stewards of the environment.
One of the biggest environmental impacts schools make is creating a lot of waste––especially when it comes to paper. Consider making a recycling station in your classroom to collect used paper and cardboard for recycling. Students can easily grab a piece of paper out of this box to use the back for work or doodling, creating a second life for the piece of paper. You can even provide additional bins for plastic bottles and cans so students can recycle their drinks after lunch. A recycling station is a great opportunity for students to learn about recycling and the lifecycle of the waste we create, while also greatly reducing the waste coming out of your classroom.
HVAC systems in schools use a lot of energy throughout the day, especially in more extreme climates and seasons. Consider doing an HVAC audit to identify any weaknesses in your HVAC system––this will not only help you be more environmentally friendly, but it will also save your school money!
Additionally, being more mindful about temperature control in your school can be a good energy-saver. If possible, change the thermostat on a daily or weekly basis in response to the weather. It’s important that students and teachers are all comfortable, but a pre-set temperature schedule doesn’t always take into account sudden weather changes, which can lead to wasted energy––and money.
One of the best ways to be environmentally friendly in your classroom is to consider the lifespan of every item you bring into your learning space––including what you will do with the item when it no longer serves its original purpose. When selecting furniture, this idea is particularly important since you are making an investment and raw materials are being used to create new furniture. Choosing furniture pieces that are durable and have multiple uses can help you furnish your school with sustainability in mind.
At MiEN Company, we utilize innovative design and high-quality raw materials to create products that balance durability with function and style. Many of our products, such as the KIO Tinker and KIO Mobile Bin Cabinet are mobile and can be used in a wide variety of applications––meaning that furniture can easily be moved, reconfigured, and repurposed in different learning spaces. Additionally, when the time eventually comes to dispose of your used furniture, many of the components are made of recyclable materials, such as aluminum, steel, and polypropylene.
By implementing some of these ideas, you can help create a learning space that is more eco-friendly. It’s impossible to create the “perfect” green classroom, but the first step to a sustainable future is finding ways to be environmentally friendly that are attainable for you, your classroom, and your school.