Unwasting our schools

Unwasting our schools
26 Mar 2019
Category Eco ideas
By practicing the "3 R's" of waste reductionreduce, reuse, and recycle—we can all do our part in the place where our kids spend most of their time during the day.

As always reducing waste can be a long process but every action, no matter how small it is, is always a good start, and so important!

Reducing waste and recycling can save the school money, energy and resources, it helps the environment and it is a great way to teach the students how their actions in reducing, reusing, and recycling do make a difference in their community.

We have therefore collected some ideas on how to reduce waste in a school. Here some suggestions:

• If students bring their lunch to school, package it in reusable containers instead of disposable ones. Carry food in reusable plastic or cloth bags, beeswax wraps and bring drinks in a thermos instead of disposable bottles or cartons.
• If using disposable containers, remember to recycle your cans and bottles in the designated bins.
• When buying lunch in the canteen, encourage students and staff to grab only what they will use. Too often extra tomato sauce packets, plastic cutlery and napkins go to waste.
• School can organize bins to recycle plastic, glass and paper and to collect organic/compostable garbage and educate students and staff about the recycling program they have in place, No matter how small the recycling program is, educating the students and staff on the “how” and “why” are vital to its success.
• Teachers and students can work together to set up a composting program at school and in the school canteen to reduce food waste.
• Teachers and students can make posters reminding others about what can be composted or recycled.
• Find a recycling champion in the school that is passionate about the topic and willing to share with the others and educate the rest of the school community not just on the recycling program, but also on the value of the 3 R’s of sustainability. As the recycling program evolves, look for additional ways that it can be improved or simplified.
• Put together a recycling and waste management team composed of few interested students, a custodian, a teacher and administration.
• Before starting the new school year, look through last year’s materials. Many items can be reused or recycled.
• Purchase and use school supplies made from recycled products, such as pencils made from old blue jeans and binders made from old shipping boxes.
• Keep waste out of landfills by using school supplies wrapped in minimal packaging, and buying in bulk when possible.
• Save packaging, coloured paper, egg cartons and other items for arts and crafts projects. Look for other ways that you can reduce the amount of packaging that you throw away.
• Get to know your local recycling facility, what they accept and how materials should be sorted. Your school will want to create a long-term relationship with the local recycling facility as you grow you recycling program.
• Use special recycling programs for school fundraising. There are many established buy-back and recycling programs that can promote teamwork while raising funds.

These are just few ideas! From big to small, there are several approaches for schools to take when considering waste management and reduction.

Even for schools where recycling and composting may seem too difficult to tackle at present, everyone can enjoy the efforts and benefits of focusing on the most important “R” (reduce) in the three “R’s” of reduce, reuse, recycle.

The beauty of adding recycling and composting to a school is the visible and valuable learning opportunities for students and teachers alike. While so many environmental issues are too complex and difficult for students to tackle, there is a direct relation between the participation and action that can take place with reducing waste, recycling and composting. The small, simple steps help students seeing how those actions can lead to effective local solutions to environmental problems.

A big thank you to St. Mary in Manly for setting a great example! 
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