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Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to not only be conscious of our own “carbon footprint,” but to be teaching our students about theirs as well. As teachers, we go through a lot of supplies, and, sometimes that means WASTE. In honor of Earth day (tomorrow!), we wanted to share 5 easy ways to “Green Up” your classroom.

1. Use LESS Paper
Don’t print everything! Seriously, if you don’t need it, don’t print it! Have your students work on individual dry erase boards! Additionally, instead of sending printed letters home to parents, email them or post a copy on your classroom webpage. BUT…if you must print, try to print on both sides whenever possible. These small changes will add up quickly!

2. Recycle ALL paper!
Try creating a paper recycling station in your classroom. Have trays for white paper and for colored paper. Encourage your students to use the recycled paper first rather than using a new sheet. Next to these trays, have a place where students can also recycle cardboard and newspaper. This is an easy and visual way to get students involved in the recycling process.

3. Recycle, Reduce & REUSE
Think twice before throwing something away! Encourage your class to do the same. Pose this question to your students: can this be re-used or recycled?

Need a few ideas to get you started?

• Paper with printing on one side can be re-purposed to make scratch pads of paper.

• Small Dixie cups or yogurt containers can easily be reused to hold paint for art projects.

• Newspapers & magazines make great material for collages or other art projects.

• Broken or small bits of crayons can be melted down into fun new shaped crayons in silicone molds or tins.

• Milk and egg cartons are a great and plentiful option for starting seeds. Use them in your next lesson on plants.

Want more ideas…check out this cool article on Scholastic.com

4. Power it down
At the end of each day (especially Fridays), take the time to completely shut down computers, chargers, and printers. Take it one step further and un-plug them from the walls when they are not in use. Electronics that are off but plugged in, still pull electricity (eek). Another Powerful tip, turn off your classroom and restroom lights when kids are not in the room. This easy tip cuts carbon emissions by reducing electricity use.

5. Bring in the Outdoors (literally)
Open your window and let in the fresh air rather than using a fan or air conditioning. This will majorly cut down on power usage on those warm days. Another “green tip”, try bringing a few plants into your classroom. Having live plants helps purify the air.

Here are a few of the best plants to keep your class breathing easy:

  • Spider Plant
  • Dracaena
  • Ficus
  • Peace Lily
  • Boston Fern
  • Snake Plant
  • Bamboo

Not only do plants help purify the air, but studies show they can help improve mood, behavior and even performance. Interested in learning more about the benefits of having plants in the classroom? Check out this great blog for more info.

Don’t try to make these changes at once. Big change starts small. And, perhaps most importantly, starts with YOU. Model the “green” behavior you want to see. Our students are constantly looking to us to be their guides when it comes to global issues. Making your classroom a little bit greener will make a huge difference in our future!

Email us at pd@rubicon.com to share your “Green Tips” for the classroom!

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