Schools produce a lot of waste. Think of all the paper, plastic bottles and paper towels a school can go through in just one day.
That’s why robust recycling programs in schools are critical in driving change. Recycling not only reduces the amount of waste in landfills, but also conserves natural resources, saves energy and creates jobs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
While recycling has increased in recent years, the rate is still just 35 percent.
Is your school doing enough to promote recycling? You can start by helping students, teachers and staff see the impact recycling can make on the planet and showing them how easy it can be. Here are three ways you can improve recycling in your school.
1. Show your school cares.
Schools help to shape habits that carry on to our adult life. When you add recycling into the daily lives of students and teach them what recycling really is, it will help them carry it into the future.
Natalie Walker, a sustainability coordinator with Compass Group, suggests raising awareness by hanging posters with fun facts or statistics related to recycling in hallways and in the cafeteria. That helps spread the message and show how much recycling can make a difference to the environment.
Then set goals for your school, like reducing paper use by 10 percent or reducing the amount of hand towels purchased by 20 percent. Make it fun by promising an award if students help your school meet these goals.
2. Customize recycling bins and add color.
Recycling can be confusing. Inconsistent labels can make it hard for even the most well-intentioned person to put waste in the right place.
Properly labeled bins with pictures and examples of what belongs in it make it easy for teachers and students to do the right thing. A recent study on recycling posters by the University of Toronto found that the addition of images on recycling bins doubled the amount of waste diverted from landfills.
3. Don’t just recycle paper – reuse it.
Millions of trees are cut down each year to make paper. With education being so paper-intensive, finding ways to recycle and reduce the amount of paper used in schools is crucial.
In addition to a recycling bin, set up a box for reusable paper so students can reuse sheets that have only been used on one side. An elementary school in California saved 100 reams of paper using this method, according to the American Federation of Teachers.
Incorporating these practices into your school can help turn students into lifelong recyclers. By doing so, you can help decrease pollution levels, save trees and help save the environment.
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