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Classroom resources - How to bring sustainability into the classroom

Education is the primary solution to a more sustainable planet. We have put together a few ideas that you can implement in your community and local school to educate family, friends, and pupils about this growing issue.

Sustainability is a topic that has been talked about more and more every day. In the last few years we have felt more the effects of the world being out of balance through hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, extreme temperatures and forest fires. When multiple once in 500-year events happen in the same year, it begs a question. But it is not all lost, we still have time to revert the damage already done and create a more sustainable planet.

The primary solution for this problem relies on education. Educating ourselves and then our friends and families and the next generations about our current environmental issues and on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. There are some great school projects already doing some great work in educating our next generation to be more eco-friendly, but so much more can be done. We have put together a few ideas that you can implement in our local community and school.  

Learning locally


You don’t need to go far to teach about zero-waste. Creating a compost pile is a great way to teach about food cycle and how it is possible to live a more zero-waste lifestyle. Children can get their hands dirty and learn how to create a compost pile, separate their waste, work with nature and create compost.

If you don’t have space to create an outdoor compost pile, you can consider getting a worm bin for the classroom. Here is a great video on how to make one. It is simple, and a great year-round activity.

Community Garden

A community Garden can be a great way to teach about the whole food cycle. You can use the compost created to feed the plants and teach about how nature deals with waste.

Everything is compostable and returns to nature to create something new. This is a perfect example of sustainability and shows how we can leave a zero waste lifestyle as well.

If you don’t have space for an outdoor garden in your school, you can make potted plants in the classroom out of recyclable materials. Here and here are some great ideas.

Outside the classroom

Park and beaches clean up

Teaching doesn’t have to be only in the classroom. Bring your community together by organising parks and beach clean-ups. This is a great way to get the whole community involved and allow the children to teach the adults about what they have learned in the classroom.

The value of recyclable materials

Competitions - collection and selling of recyclable products

Recycling is not just good for the environment, but it also holds monetary value. Children can learn that the materials we usually just dispose of in the bin are valuable raw materials. An idea for the classroom is to have a few different recycling bins to separate materials. The class who collects the most waste in the month earns a prize (sustainability related, experience days out, etc.) with the profit converted from the selling of recyclable materials. The children can get motivated and learn the monetary value of recycling and how to separate properly each material. In Cisnădie, the school earnt enough money to buy a bike rack for pupils last year in their involvement in the project `Un Viitor fără Gunoi`.

Here are some of the materials that can be easily sold to recycling centres:

Paper: scrap paper and cardboard can be easily sold for profit, and it is one of the most used materials in schools. Just make sure they are separated properly and are not mixed with any other materials.

Aluminium Cans: it is one of the most widely recycled items and the most valuable ones. According to the Can Manufacturers Institute, a single aluminium can is worth between one and two cents.

Plastic Bottles: Plastic bottles used for water, sodas and juices can be recycled in many recycling centres. Just make sure to separate by “type”, which helps to identify the type of plastic contained in the bottle. “Type 1” and “Type 2” are the most common types of plastic containers and easily recyclable.

Make zero waste products and sells at school’s markets

Living a zero-waste lifestyle can be fun. Pupils can learn how to make their own products like deodorant, cleaning products, soaps and personal hygiene products in general. To motivate them even more, they can create a zero-waste market at the school to sell the products they made.

Here and here are some great ideas.


Zero waste days

Why not create some challenges in the classroom? A great idea is to challenge students to be zero waste once a week. Encourage them to bring their own reusable bottle, packaging free lunch box, and not to use any plastic for the day. They can learn about sustainability and zero waste while having fun.

Carbon footprint – walk/cycle/scoot to school

Walk to school days don’t have to be only in October. Encourage school pupils to get more active and reduce their carbon footprint by cycling, walking or scooting to school. 

Use more digital content and reduce paper wastage

We live now in a digital era and it is becoming even easier to introduce digital content into the classroom. Instead of handing printouts to every pupil, why not use a digital projector?

Don’t have a computer at your school yet? You can reduce the paper wastage by encouraging pupils to work in groups and using the same printouts for different classes.

Choose environmentally friendly school supplies

Work with your community and school to make simple and inexpensive switches, like changing schools supplies to a greener option, swapping light bulbs to more energy efficient ones, and getting local farm fresh produces to supply to the school cafeteria. You can also encourage parents to choose environmentally friendly school supplies for their children. Small changes can make a huge environmental impact.

The project ‘A Future without Rubbish’ believes that educating pupils about our environment is the key to have a more sustainable planet. This project educates pupils about recycling and rubbish in general; from kindergarten age, and then throughout their whole education. It is supported by schools, councils and businesses. To find out more click here.

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