I am an environmentalist. I am constantly on the lookout for ways to use items that would otherwise be thrown away and consequently I save a lot of money. I love the dollar store and thrift stores and garage sale finds too, however, there is a certain amount of satisfaction from making something oneself and giving life and use to "trash". Please know, dear teacher and reader that I do not want to create clutter and I will only post ideas that have worked for me. Here are some of my favorite strategies to promote an earth friendly classroom, I hope one or two can apply to you!
1. Have plants in your classroom. Especially near your computer. A leafy plant can filter radiation from electronic devices.
2. Recycle! (I had to take recyclables home for years. Finally my school came on board and put recycling containers on school grounds!) Especially all those different kinds of paper we use for all our projects. Keep a bag around for cans and plastic bottle. (Did you know that only 10% of bottles are recycled? That's a lot of plastic floating around)
3.If you have a sink in your classroom keep a special cloth towel aside for your own use. Think about how many times a day we wash our hands.
4.If you are really motivated: Bring in several bath towels for your students to use. I use one towel a day and bring them home on Friday to wash with my weekend laundry. I can't express how much less paper my classroom wastes. If you are thinking "Eww, germs!" I understand. I took a look at the soap we use. It is antibacterial. I also have a "soap helper" who makes sure everyone gets one squirt of soap before they wash their hands and they lather up well before rinsing,(apparently it is the friction that kills germs more than hot water) so their hands should be as germ free as possible before they get to the towel. The soap helper also keeps soap waste to a minimum.
5. My school uses disposable(Styrofoam) lunch trays and plastic silverware. (We are working to change this.) I keep a supply of washable dishes and silverware for myself in a drawer. (I even have my own cloth napkin. Like I said, environmentalist.)
6.Car pool, bike, walk or use public transportation once a week if you can. (This is not always possible, but sometimes it works out well to ride together if a whole group of teachers are going to the same workshop or something.)
7. Instead of buying bottled water, invest in a reusable beverage container. This works for coffee too.
8. Be careful what you laminate. I am a laminator junkie. I have to ask myself , very sternly, "Do I really need to laminate this? Do I want it to last forever?"
9. Plug your computer, printer and any other electronics that are always on, into a surge protector. At the end of the day, turn off the devices and turn off the surge protector. This will stop any electronics from using energy to be in standby mode.
10. Pass on earth friendly living to your students.