Seven ways to make  your school more sustainable

The classroom is an excellent place to build sustainable habits and create an open discussion with students about the importance of caring for the environment. 

Educators are always trying to find new ways to create fun and engaging learning experiences. Luckily, when it comes to learning about the environment and how to live sustainably, there are plenty of interactive activities to engage your students.

  1. Get planting!

Research has shown that contact with soil can release serotonin in the brain. Gardening doesn’t just feel good, it’s a great way to create interactive and memorable ways for your students to learn about nature. 

Creating community garden beds at your school is a great way to get students and the wider community involved with caring for the plants. 

  1. Start recycling 

We’re not just saying this because we love recycling. It’s one of the easiest ways to get your students thinking about the impact of daily behaviours and doing something for the planet.

Recycling capabilities vary from council to council, so it’s important to teach your students how to check what belongs in their kerbside recycling bin, and how to avoid some of the biggest recycling blunders. Check out our blog about this: here.

The good news is that many of the things that can’t go into kerbside recycling can be recycled through TerraCycle’s partnerships. These include items close to childrens’ hearts and used daily, such as toys, toothbrushes, writing instruments and lunch wrap. 

Even better, by recycling tricky waste through TerraCycle’s free programs, school communities can earn points that can be redeemed and donated to a charity or organisation, including your school!

Here are some of our existing  recycling programs for schools:

  1. Start composting or vermicomposting at your school

15.3 million tonnes of organic waste was generated in 2016-17, which accounted for 20% of all waste. Many people don’t realise that organic waste going to landfill takes longer to break down because it’s wrapped in plastic and tightly compacted in an anaerobic environment (without oxygen). The organic waste breaks down at a much slower rate, causing it to release methane which is over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The best solution is to avoid putting organic waste in the garbage altogether.

You can set up a classroom or school compost site, or a worm farm, to demonstrate how to break down organic food scraps in a sustainable way.

If you join our Glad to Recycle competition, you can even win your classroom a sustainable garden, sign up here in Australia.

  1. Encourage  students to reduce their impact with mini challenges

Setting relevant challenges will get your students thinking about the small actions they can take to reduce their impact on their environment. For instance:

  • Ask your students to pack a zero-waste lunch for a week
  • Discuss whether they can  walk, carpool or take public transport to school
  • Challenge your class to pick up litter and recycle things where possible
  • Enrol in a TerraCycle challenge, such as our Glad to Recycle Competition, to recycle lunch box soft plastics.
  1. Upcycling crafternoon

Upcycling is a fun and creative activity. Involve your class in a workshop to reuse and repurpose old items, to make them into something new. Link to some examples

Challenge your classroom to create a collection box for old unwanted or unused items that they were going to throw away, and then get creative with what you can make with them.

  1. Set up donation bins

The secondhand economy is a key driver of sustainability. Buying secondhand or donating items keeps them in circulation for longer, reducing our need for new items that are made from virgin materials and expend energy.  Thrift shopping is also an amazing way to teach your students how to help those in need. 

We hope this activities list helps you engage your class to think about the environment. 

TerraCycle has been tackling tricky waste for many years and through our sponsored partnerships we provide free recycling programs and resources to encourage community and household recycling.

You can set up donation bins in your classroom for students to bring in old toys or clothes, which can then be rehomed. For toys that are too far gone, you can recycle select brands such as L.O.L! Surprise or PAW Patrol through TerraCycle.

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