Global warming, endangered species, water pollution, and overwhelmingly full landfills are just a few of the reasons why people are considering going green. Only in the US, 46% of lakes are too polluted for fishing or swimming. Not to mention the quick deforestation that could lead to most of the topsoil being gone in the next six decades.
The big picture looks bad, but it’s not too late to make a change. We all need to make smarter decisions. A small change in our behavior can have a big impact, and it’s good to teach children how to look after the planet starting from a young age.
As an educator, you can play a big role in teaching young minds about the effects of global warming, increasing world population, and waste that goes into the landfills or the ocean. You can create informative lessons and ask your students to work on sustainable projects that they can later stick to no matter where they are.
Although it’s a lot easier to raise awareness among young learners, high school students are just as receptive to problems regarding global warming. Here are a few ideas that you can implement in your classroom to make it more eco-friendly.
Read more: Eco-education: From eco-schools to eco-citizens
Reduce paper use
A few years ago, the most common way to teach and learn was based on traditional textbooks. However, a lot of schools are now replacing them with online materials. With the help of a learning management system (LMS), educators can store course materials and other useful presentations in a safe space.
This does not only reduce paper use, but it also encourages students to study at their own pace and even come back to those materials to better understand certain concepts.
Generally, teachers need a lot of paper for assignments, but it’s a lot easier to reduce paper waste and give instant feedback through an online tool.
Read more: Making the case for paperless schools
Create a recycling program
A recycling program is a great opportunity to change bad habits and teach about practices that students can follow both at school and at home. There are many fun and creative ways to do so in your classroom.
For example, you could create a contest for students to decorate recycling bins. To take things further, ask the whole school to participate in the contest and start recycling. At the end of the month, you will see which class or grade recycled the most items.
The idea is to make recycling as fun as possible, so people are more willing to take part in it. This will encourage students to continue recycling even outside of school.
Rethink snack time
The lunch break is a good time to fuel your body with nutritious food. However, using plastic cutlery and plates on a regular basis will do more harm than good. When it’s time to prepare for a snack or the next class party, reach for environmentally friendly materials.
Paper plates and biodegradable cups are good plastic alternatives. More so, you can even ask students to bring reusable silverware sets that they either leave at school or take back home each day.
As for the snacks they’re eating, it’s good to involve parents and suggest a few healthy recipes, like baked sweet potato fries, oatmeal, crackers, and nut butter, fruit, or yogurt.
Add indoor plants
While many households have plants, they are just as good for the classroom. Nature has provided us with a lot of natural air purifiers that also look nice.
Adding a couple of plants to the windowsill is a good start. This teaches students how to be more responsible by learning how to take good care of them, so they bring joy to the class for a long time.
An alternative idea would be to start a mini-garden. You don’t have to do this outside as it does not require that much space. A herb garden in a window box could be a nice biology project as well as a way to teach kids about the importance of plants.
Encourage walking to school
There is no need to talk about the benefits of leading an active lifestyle. However, walking to school instead of going by car can make a big difference for the planet, even if it’s just for a few days a week.
If they live too far away from the school, there are a few ways to encourage them to bike. You could create treasure hunts, give little rewards and badges and leave some space for fun. Observing traffic signs, animals, or games like “I spy” are good ways to pass the time while staying alert.
However, before encouraging students to get on their bikes in the morning, you must teach about road safety and other rules they need to stick to while taking an alternative mode of transportation.
There are many strategies that you can take into account when it comes to creating an environmentally friendly classroom. You can start by creating a few lessons explaining what is happening in the world and then proceed with the projects and other materials. That way, students become aware of the importance of recycling and reducing paper usage and can make better decisions starting from that point.