We all know that our future depends on protecting the health of our future builders and the planet. To do so, we need to instill a sense of environmental responsibility into new generations of citizens. Since students spend more time at school than anywhere else, at least six hours a day, school is the best place to educate them a “green” lifestyle. How can we have a green future without green schools? By going green at schools in practice and the classroom, we can bring about the idea that such sustainable lifestyle is normal and acceptable. That will make the process of producing new generations of responsible people much easier.

Benefits of Going Green at School:

  • Going green help protect the environment and save our planet
  • Research shows that greener school environments can improve student’s health and learning as well as counteract some of the unhealthy environmental factors and practices often employed by schools
  • It teaches the students to be less wasteful and more responsible
  • It could save energy and even lower utility bills for schools
  • It teaches the students how important it is to take care of the earth as they are growing up this is something they see with their own eyes.
  • Setting a good example for others (It can be your friends or your family) – They will benefit from seeing the way you act about the environment as they will act accordingly.

Ways to Go Green at School

For Students/Parents

Get to School Greenly

Why drive when you can walk or ride! Driving less helps save gas and cause less air pollution. By biking to school, you cannot only help reduce carbon dioxide but also improve your health. In fact, regular cycling is good for your heart and muscles and it may improve how you walk and balance.

Re-use school supplies

Before buying every item on the supplies list, take time to look at the supplies you already have and see what can be re-used. Are last year’s pens and pencils still usable? Do you really need a new lunchbox? By re-use some usable items, you will reduce waste and save a lot of money.

Buy recycled or renewable ones

If you really need to buy new supplies, you can make green choices by considering recycled and renewable school supplies. You can find many retailers which are selling those supplies out there such as Ecojot.com, which offer notebooks, sketchbooks, and more made entirely from post-consumer waster. When buying a new backpack, consider ones that are made from recycled material as well as is padded to prevent back pain. Making green and economical purchases can go a long way in protecting the environment and saving your money.

Pack a waste-free lunch

A waste-free lunch means that you have no trash to throw away when you’re done. By reducing your plastic waste and by adopting reusable lunch containers, you’re not making choices that are better for your child’s health, but on the whole for the planet. Pack lunches for your kids using reusable lunch containers, refillable water bottle, cloth napkin, reusable utensils to avoid trash generation.

More information on packing a waste-free lunch:

Pack a waste-free lunch – EPA

Pack a Waste-Free Lunch

Saving energy

Schools waste a lot of energy by leaving the lights on for most of the day. So make sure turn off the lights when they’re not in use.

  • Switch off lights whenever you leave your classroom of science experiments room.
  • Form a student patrol to ensure lights are out when rooms are empty.
  • Make signs to remind people to turn off the lights when leaving a room.

Saving water

There’re many ways you can do to save and reuse water in your school:

  • Turn the tap off if not using
  • Collect excess water and use it wisely (You can use it in your school garden)
  • Report Leaks
  • Use a container to wash your brushes rather than under a running tap

For teachers

Organize a School Carpool Program

This program can help to reduce fossil fuel used per person, which means less pollution emitted per person. The teachers can start a carpool program by asking the parents of one or two classes to see if they’d like to reduce the amount they drive their individual child to and from school to reduce the driving emissions. If the students live nearby,  try to encourage them to ride or walk to school in groups.

Classroom recycling

Starting a recycling program in the classroom is one of the easiest ways to go green at school. This can be as simple as providing a green box for recycling. By doing this, the students can physically see how much trash they are saving from the landfill.

Read more:

Recycling for Kids and Teachers

Teacher tips for classroom recycling

School-friendly composting projects

What a better way to understand what happens to our garbage than through the hands-on experience of composting!

Composting is the process of decomposing or breaking down organic material to create an organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer or additive to soils. Incorporating a composting program at school can be a fun and effective way to teach the next generation about how waste can be turned into a rich soil and the related environmental concerns. There are a number of ways to start composting in the school. You can start a school-wide composting program with outdoor bins on the school grounds.

Read more about composting program:

How to Start a Compost Program

Guide to start a school compost program (PDF)

Recycled Art Projects

What better way than get creative with what you’re already recycling? Recycled art projects for students to create can be a great way to encourage them to reuse what they already have and giving them an easy taste of being green.

Following the link below for a lot of projects for students that reuse what they’re already recycling.

75 recycled art projects for kids

Recycled Arts Activities for kids

Grow a Garden or plant trees

Grow a garden or plant a tree can be a valuable activity for students since there’re a ton of lessons they can learn from growing and maintaining a garden.

By growing a school garden, students can learn valuable lessons about ecology, sustainable agriculture, and nutrition. Growing food and native plants can also teach them about food sources and problems such as grocery transport emissions and food waste issues. Choose vegetables, herbs, and fruits that are easy to grow and harvest such as salad leaves, beetroot, tomatoes, mint. In no time, they will bloom and produce new vegetables that your students will certainly love to eat, knowing that they had a hand in growing it.

A garden-growing project can also teach students about the environmental benefits of trees such as producing food, providing shade for comfort and creating a natural habitat for animals.

Read more: School garden planning checklists

Discuss the issues

It’s important to create an open atmosphere in the classroom for students to discuss about recycling, water, and energy conservation, the benefits of going green, ways the students can get involved in going green and all kinds of environmental topics. Open discussions will bring out new ideas as well as a better understanding of what we can all do to help protect the environment and save our planet.

Field trip to recycling center

If there’s a recycling center nearby, you can contact them to ask if they offer guided tours. With visual stimulation, the students will have a better understanding of what happens to their paper and other recyclables after they land in the green box as well as the process of recyclable materials. Additionally, learning about the compelling benefits of recycling helps students make sound and thoughtful choices that will positively influence the local and global environment.

Read more: Field trip to recycling center

Go green on Earth Day

You can plan out small activities for the entire day or for the weeks leading up to Earth Day. Here are some activities you might incorporate into an Earth Day event:

  • Discuss cool science topics like energy and water awareness.
  • Learn how to compost
  • Calculate your carbon footprint
  • A trash pick-up around school grounds
  • Create a rain barrel
  • Plant trees or growing food and native plants
  • Making art projects
  • Decorate an environmentally-friendly t-shirt
  • Making posters to raise awareness of green initiatives

Going green at school resources

The importance of green schools

The benefits of green school

How to Bring Green Into Classroom

Energy Saving Activities For Schools

Going Paperless: Not as Green as You May Think

Ideas for Going Green in The Classrooms

Guide to Transforming your Campus, Community, and Career (PDF)

A Guide to Sustainability in College and In Life

How to Green Your Community