Back to School season is just around the corner, and as all teachers know, this means the wheels in our heads have been turning, thinking about classroom decor, organization and themes we want to use with our kiddos for the upcoming school year since the second week of summer holidays.
Here are ten terrific tips to help your return to the classroom eco-friendly:
1. Use Eco-Friendly Classroom Decor.
Use ribbons or burlap as bulletin borders. Not only do they look fantastic, they can easily be rolled up and reused year after year. They don’t get new staple holes every time they are taken down and they can be thrown in the wash if they get dusty or dirty.
(Tip: Put ribbon and burlap borders in lingerie bags and wash them using the delicate cycle if you want them clean and untangled.)
2. Use butcher paper or newspaper as bulletin board background.
This inexpensive background can be recycled and even better, reused! From papier mache for art projects to backdrops for class plays and puppet shows, these backgrounds can be transformed in so many ways before making their way to the recycling bin.
Do you like the classroom jobs display in this photo? Get the Classroom Jobs Set here.
3. Use real plants to decorate parts of the classroom.
Use succulents as table centres or air purifying plants near windows to add a green, clean touch to the classroom.
4. Use old milk crates seating and storage.
Slap a couple of pillows onto the tops of these items to create your own inexpensive and flexible seating. Below is an example, including instructions for adding the cushions.
5. Hit yard sales and the internet to learn about used items.
The chair pictured below was absolutely free, given by a friend who was closing her furniture store. The vintage milk crate used to hold clipboards and books was purchased at a yard sale.
6. Repurpose cereal boxes.
Cereal boxes can be used to make file folders, paper trays and mailboxes for your students. They can also be used as magazine holders!
7. Keep those styrofoam meat trays!
Those pesky styrofoam meat trays that are used for packaging our ground beef or chicken can go into the dishwasher to be disinfected, to be reused as paint pallets. They rinse easily, can be reused over and over again and if they are forgotten and unwashed over the weekend, it isn’t as heartbreaking to dispose of, as opposed to their plastic counterparts.
Meat trays can also be used as an arts and craft material, as well as for STEM/STEAM activities.
8. Include reusable water bottles on your student supply list.
Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.
Help your students use less disposable water bottles throughout the school year. Parents will save money, while you and your students save the planet.
The bottles below, available on Amazon (click on the image to get one), are BPA and PVC free, are spill proof and are easy to clean (no straw). My daughter and I have enjoyed the model below for years.
9. Use less paper.
Communicate with parents and colleagues using the internet. (For a comparison of different paperless means of communicating with students’ families, check out this post.
When you do use paper, such as when you are planning field trips and activities that require signed consent, consider using eco-friendly tools such as these Eco-Friendly Field Trip Consent Forms to use less paper product and when necessary, always try to use paper and envelopes that are FSC certified! (See below).
10. Look for the logos.
Many office and school supplies have eco certification. Check out this list of possible eco certification the supplies you’ll potentially order will have. A perfect example of certification for paper products with Forest Stewardship Certification have been produced following practices that promote the regeneration of forests and that does not damage forest ecosystems.
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