Whether you are at home or at work, recycling and waste management programs are a big part of life. How about school? Although many institutions of learning are proactive when it comes to handling garbage, others do not feel a pressing need for change.
Without enthusiastic oversight and management, the process can feel unwieldy and burdensome. As a result, while it’s true most students probably recycle at home, they may not find the same eco-conscious opportunities in their place of learning.
For teachers, administrators, and students to find success with such programs, the systems need to be as convenient and effective as possible. This is especially the case given the chaotic environment of schools in general. Things need to run smoothly or they often don’t run at all!
Finding ways to reduce waste and recycle more can provide something almost all schools need: ways to save money, energy, and resources. Most schools run on tight budgets, so learning how to maximize what they have and waste less is an important goal.
Further, teaching children to reduce, reuse, and recycle provides valuable life skills that can make a significant difference in their communities and surrounding environment. All we need to make such programs work is knowledge, motivation, and a little hard work.
Try not to throw anything away.
Schools are often left at the end of the year with a lot of items they don’t need. However, the fact that those items are unwanted by their original owners doesn’t necessarily make them garbage.
Books, old computers, supplies, outdated equipment – all of it can be donated to local organizations that repurpose such things. Alternatively, it can be given to families in need.
Play in the dirt.
One thing most kids love to do is eat. As a result, leftover food may be one of the most challenging components of a school’s waste management process. Finding a convenient way to handle it is key. Starting a composting program that relies on the efforts of the student can be beneficial, especially given the amount of personal responsibility it implies.
Asking students to think about what they choose to eat (and subsequently throw away) can help them make changes at home as well. When a school provides simple ways for kids to separate organic material at the end of a meal, it has taken the first step to implementing a cooperative composting program right on campus.
Put the kids in charge.
Put the onus on students to take charge of the waste management program. Make it part of the curriculum or offer fun rewards as a way to get it running. By bringing together a team of motivated kids, along with a few teachers, the problem becomes a lot easier to manage.
Finding different incentives to keep kids motivated and excited about helping the planet is a great way to garner enthusiasm. Doing so also teaches them to think about something larger than themselves.
Traditionally, schools have relied on pencils and paper, but the world is changing quickly. Most institutions of learning have at least a few computers that can be used by students. Additionally, in many cases, children have their own personal devices.
A significant amount of school work can be conducted and completed through online methods, reducing the amount of paper students use. By working on a screen as much as possible, the need for printing is also greatly reduced. This can save an enormous amount of resources.
Staff and administration can also be educated on how to make their curriculum and correspondence paperless. Much of the time, these changes are small and super convenient. This shift in thinking can affect some serious change in the world by increasing efficiency with less overall waste.
Learning what material is sorted and accepted in your geographic location will help determine the focus of your program. Establish a relationship with your nearby waste facility (or even take a field trip). This is a great way to educate students on what exactly happens to their trash once it hits the can. Armed with knowledge, they can use their actions to make powerful changes in the environment.
Make an investment.
The initial outlay to buy the types of receptacles needed for recycling and composting can be expensive. However, once they are in place and ready to use, then your waste management efforts will be up and running. With the added component of student participation, the program should essentially run itself.
Small vertical balers and other convenient repositories are easy-to-find essentials for a convenient and effective system. By spending a little up front to put this piece in place, schools are investing in the future and their environmental success.