By Heather Johnson
Most of you teachers are gearing up for the school year and getting the classroom ready and we've come up with 50 different ways to go green in your classroom. Parents, teachers are always looking for great ideas, so read on!
- Recycle Competition: Many classrooms already have recycling barrels next to the trash can, but you can start a competition with your hall to see which class can save the most newspapers, soda cans, water bottles or any other recyclable item.
- Compost heap: If your school isn’t willing to start composting, you can create a mini compost pile outside your classroom to get rid of some of your garbage, though it’s probably a smart idea to make sure it’s cleared with the administration and fire codes.
- Start a garden: Use the compost to fertilize a class garden. You can grow vegetables or flowers, and let the students sample what you grow.
- Recycle technology: If you’re lucky enough to be getting new computers this fall, invite your kids to join the Goodwill and Dell Reconnect program, which recycles computers and other electronics.
- Go Green Database: Browse this database for fun eco-friendly projects that encourage awareness.
- Plan an end-of-the-day room check: During the last few minutes of the day, have your children make sure all the water faucets are completely turned off, blinds are closed, lights are off and windows are closed. You can give different groups a checklist for each part of the room.
- Adopt a rainforest: This project works with any unit you’re teaching. Your class can adopt the rainforest, whales, a block on your street or any other place you want to make a difference.
- Use real plants for class pets: If your classroom has a pet turtle, lizard or fish, use real plants instead of synthetic or plastic plants. It’s better for the greater environment, as well as your little friend.
- Calculate your carbon footprint: You can use this calculator to calculate your classroom’s carbon footprint, or the combined effect all of your students have on the environment. Then, discuss ways to minimize your effect on the environment.
- Take an eco-friendly field trip: Walk to a nearby park to examine the local ecosystems without using extra gas.
- Start a class website: Older students will respond to a class website, where they can get homework help, submit discussion questions, and play with interactive study guides, all of which save paper.
- Raise monarch butterflies: This teacher started a class project to raise monarch butterflies in order to teach her students about natural ecosystems and the developing stages of life.
It’s time to reevaluate your school supply closet and figure out how to introduce safer, more environmentally friendly pens, paints and tissues into the mix.
- Use water-based paints: The Green Guide recommends using water-based paints for a non-toxic creative project.
- Green art projects: This list of green art projects are all good for the environment, and some utilize natural ingredients and products like clay and wood.
- Use green tissues: These Seventh Generation brand tissues are chlorine-free, so they aren’t a threat to the ozone layer and have no dyes or artificial fragrances.
- Make your own cleaning kit: Free your students of breathing in harmful chemicals and help the environment by whipping up your own batch of non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
- Stock your room with green school supplies: If you or your school’s budget can afford it, stock your room with green school supplies, like recycled notebook binders and biodegradable corn starch pens.
- Write with recycled pencils: This number two pencil is also made of recycled wood.
- Acid-free glue stick: For all your art projects, use acid-free glue stick, which is less messier than liquid glue and better for the environment.
- Send efaxes: For permission slips and progress reports, send out electronic faxes that don’t require extra paper or electricity.
- Recharge batteries: Rechargeable batteries can save the earth from harmful metals and compounds that can’t be broken down when you toss out old batteries.