Our handy guide for small steps to zero waste, cuts through the noise and gives straightforward tips on small changes that make a big difference in schools…
In the School Garden
Stop throwing away old food waste and garden clippings and instead, turn them in to a nutrient dense fertilizer for your school garden.
- Before investing in a compost bin for your school, why not send a plea to parents or local community members asking for donations of preloved bins. You may well be surprised at the donations people are willing to give.
- ‘Green waste’ such as tea bags from the staff room, fruit and vegetable waste (think leftovers from snacks, school dinners and lunch boxes, grass cuttings from the school field, weeds and fresh leaves) can all be added to the compost heap and should make up 25-50% of the total pile.
- ‘Brown waste’ such as dried leaves, shredded paper (you could use shredded confidential documents for this to save money on disposal costs), twigs and dried leaves should make up the other 50-75%.
- Encourage children to collect waste plant matter from around the school site and to add their lunchbox leftovers to the compost bin, explaining the impact this will have on their school environment.
In the Classroom
Reuse and recycle in the classroom
Better waste management in the classroom can help to save both money and the environment.
- Establish a set of rules for managing paper waste in the classroom. Think about how paper is used by pupils day-to-day and encourage mindfulness before reaching for a fresh sheet.
- Think outside the box about uses for your wastepaper. Cut into strips or scrunch with PVA glue to use for art projects, fold colorful sheets in to origami shapes, make baskets and boxes with cut out strips of scrap paper.
- Committing to working with sustainable suppliers and buying an environmentally friendly sheet can also have an impact on the environment and the school’s budget. Our team are always happy to advise our customers on the best products to suit budget and any environmental concerns.
- Encourage staff to think carefully before binning any old equipment, tubs or storage solutions from the classroom. One classes trash could be another’s treasure.
- TerraCycle are leading a global revolution, recycling more unusual items that were previously only good for landfill. Interestingly for schools, they will recycle both unwanted pens and crisp packets.
- Zero Waste Week runs from 2nd-6th Sept this year and the organisers website is packed full of ideas for recycling in schools, some of which link to a direct cash incentive to help PTA or school funds. Check out their guide on Raising Money with School Recycling or sign your school up to take part in the awareness week.
School Groups or Organisations
You school PTA, Teachers Association or School Council could also help decrease a schools overall waste.
- Set up an after school swap shop for clothes, toys and unwanted childrens items.
- Be clear about the ‘rules’ of the swap, e.g. one donated toy = credit for one swap.
- Encourage children not bringing swaps to make a donation to an environmental charity.
- eco-schools.org.uk has a fantastic initiative called Re-Love Our Stuff, specifically aimed at Primary aged children on organising swap shops for clothes. Click here to download the guide.
- Inspire children with local recyclers who are flying the flag for creating new things from old. Are there any community groups of outside companies who are willing to come in and speak with the children?
- Speak to your PTA about how to make school events less wasteful. Simple swaps like reusable cups instead of disposable at the school fair could go a long way to reducing overall waste.
Whatever steps you and your school community make, ensure the students are engaged in every step of the process. As teachers and parents, it is our responsibility to inspire the next generation to take pride in and look after our planet. Every lesson learnt in protecting our environment now, will help to shape good citizens for our planet in generations to come. If every school in the country made small changes, just think what could be achieved!