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How to Set Up an Environmentally Friendly, Green Classroom

Live by the Motto, "Earth Day is Every Day" With These Easy Environmenal Tips

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As the teacher in your classroom, you are a leader on all types of issues, including environmental concerns when you choose to run a visibly Green Classroom. If your students watch you, day in and day out, recycling paper products and turning off lights when you leave the classroom, you are sending them a positive, proactive message about conserving the earth's resources and helping the environment in ways big and small.

It's easier than you might think to set up and run a Green Classroom. Here are some suggestions for little things you can do on a daily basis to show students how to be environmentally conscious:

  • Make sure that paper and aluminum can recycling boxes are always available in your classroom. Actively promote their use. If you see someone throwing something away, remind him or her about recycling.
  • Use a reusable water bottle, rather than throw-away plastic bottles. Encourage your students to do the same. Perhaps you could even organize a bulk purchase of reusable bottles, gathering $10 from parents and procuring the bottles for your classroom.
  • Place the recycling symbol on the walls of your classroom. The students will gain familiarity with this symbol and recognize it when they are out and about needing to throw something away.
  • When a students ask you if it's OK for them to throw away specific papers (like an old math test, for example), consistently respond, "Sure. You can recycle them." By answering this way, students will begin to think of recycling before garbage cans.
  • If you have student jobs, perhaps one of the jobs could be "recycling monitor." This person would be in charge of making sure that people are recycling instead of throwing items into the regular trash. Also, this person might be in charge of taking the recycling boxes to the school's recycling center, if applicable.
  • Encourage children to pick up trash around the school grounds. Perhaps if your students are acting antsy one afternoon, take a ten minute clean-up stroll around the campus before you get back to the learning at hand.
  • Decorate your classroom with plants and flowers. Also, students can plant their own seeds in the beginning of the year and watch their plants thrive as the year progresses.
  • Creatively minimize the amount of paper used in your classroom, without compromising educational objectives, of course. When you save a little paper, make a comment like, "We can save paper by doing it this way."
Get creative with the ways you enjoy and protect the environment of your classroom, school and neighborhood. I've even seen one teacher who, instead of giving out candy, rewards her students by letting them choose a plant to take home from her collection. These fifth graders are absolutely thrilled when they get to keep a plant!

Best of all, your students might even be inspired to take some of your green habits back to their homes, spreading the green message far beyond the four walls of your classroom.

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