Eco Friendly School Ideas for Greener Classrooms and Smaller Footprints

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Have you ever wished for more environmentally friendly schools in your area? Did you ever think that maybe YOU could help play a part in implementing green schools initiatives in your town? I am going to share a few eco friendly school ideas for you to research and implement in the fall.  There are many, MANY, ways to green your school but most of them require that parents, kids and teachers get involved.  

Sustainable Schools. How YOU and the PTA can help

Why Push for Sustainable Schools?

Why do we need green schools? Most of the time, parents are expected to be the ‘teachers’ when it comes to their children. We teach them to walk, talk, use the potty, do their math homework (at least until 6th grade!) and drive a car. We hope (or pray!) that our lessons are well accepted and our children become well adjusted members of society.

What if teaching eco friendly lessons went from child to parent and not the other way around? When your kids head back to school in the fall, talk to teachers and administrators about these important eco friendly classroom ideas.

Eco Friendly School Ideas for Greener Classrooms and Smaller Footprints

Green Classrooms and Smaller Footprints

There are certain things that we, as parents, can learn from our children. The environmental movement needs to capitalize on this idea for increased awareness. Adults are often stuck in their ways. They are determined to do the same things over and over just because it is how they have always done them.

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Are you idling the car while waiting in the carpool line? Throwing out your soda can instead of recycling it. Throwing a cigarette butt out the window instead of putting it in your ashtray (or quitting all together!). Sound familiar?

These are all habits adults have already formed but with a little bit of guilt from our children, we may just think twice about our choices. The eco friendly school ideas that our children are exposed to in the classroom don’t just stop once they walk out the door.

Eco Friendly School Ideas for Greener Classrooms and Smaller Footprints

Bringing Those Green Lessons Home

Kids spend 8 hours out of just about every day at school. In order for environmental activists to change the way that people impact the world around them,  they need to start with the little people FIRST. Teach kids about reducing, reusing and recycling. Then, they will bring those lessons home and teach their parents.

The next time mom goes to toss a can in the trash, little Susie may just speak up. “Mom, you know you really should recycle that!”. And maybe, (just maybe!) mom will listen! Eco friendly school ideas not only teach lessons to our children but in turn those lessons go home to parents as well.Eco friendly children are vital to the survival of this planet.

Eco Friendly School Ideas for Greener Classrooms and Smaller Footprints

Today’s Green Lessons

According to Wikipedia,  in 2000, there were 76.6 million students enrolled in schools. Kids enter school at around 5 or 6 years of age. They graduate high school at about 18. That is over 13 years that we could be teaching them how to care for our environment!

Want to get your school to go green but you aren’t sure how to do it? I was the chair of my kids Environmental Committee for 4 years and learned quite a few things along the way. Is it easy? NO. Sometimes it can be downright frustrating but it does have its rewards.

eco friendly school ideas

Eco Friendly School Ideas for Your School

When a child recycles their scrap paper or takes one less paper towel in the bathroom I cheer inside just a little bit. Here are a few eco friendly school ideas that might help you change a few kids’ behavior at your local school.

Start an Environmental Committee.

One person cannot do it all alone. I know, I tried! Talk to your school’s PTA president. Bring up the idea of starting a committee to help the school go green. Gather like-minded parents to help you. How do you find them? Go to lunch with your child. The kid eating organic granola bars and using cloth napkins has an eco-friendly mom, I guarantee it!

Talk to the school staff.

Schools purchase a LOT of stuff! Toner cartridges, copy paper, pencils, etc are all available in both green and NON green options. See what the school’s policy is on purchasing these items and if they are willing to switch. You can donate a few eco friendly school supplies to your child’s teacher. However, you can’t fund the whole school out of your own pocket.
You may also want to discuss the types of cleaners that the custodial staff uses and how they are disposed of. They will have contact information for the school’s district if you want to speak with someone higher about possible changes. Look into a paper recycling facility in your area and see if you can get the school to start recycling some of the paper waste they create!

Make a visit to the classroom.

It is hard to actually teach kids about the environment without involving the teachers themselves. Check out this list of environmental lesson plans and see if they are willing to incorporate the discussions into their own classroom.
While most schools must ‘teach to the test’ and make sure the students are taught certain academic skills, it is very easy to include environmental lessons at the same time. Focus on topics like Earth Day or Earth Hour. Ask your child’s teacher if you can read an Earth Day book at story time to the class.
If they are teaching math, they could include a discussion of parking lot surface area and rain runoff. Maybe in language arts they could work on correcting the punctuation of a story that focuses on river cleanup. The options are endless!

Start an environmental club.

The committee mentioned in number one above is for adults. An environmental CLUB is for the kids! Maybe an after school meeting once a week would be a great way to get dedicated kids to make a difference in their community.
What sort of things could they do? Paint a rain barrel, make posters for the school hallways, help with a recycling drive, go out on a river cleanup in their town, plant a garden on the school property that they could learn to maintain. These are minds that are just waiting to absorb lessons about caring for the world around them.
eco friendly school ideas

Look into green fundraising.

Many of the activities you may want to do will require a small amount of money. Ask for donations from parents and raise money with an eco-friendly sale of some sort. Have a second-hand book sale or sell sustainable items from companies like Equal Exchange or Smencils (kids LOVE smelly pencils!).
Contact your local nursery and see if they are willing to donate seed packets. Any donation that can be sold for a small fee will bring money into your school’s pocket.

Tackle the school lunch program.

This is a tough one and not a battle that will be easy. Most public school lunches are as far from nutritious and ‘green’ as humanly possible. You don’t find a lot of healthy lunches in the cafeteria line.
If your school uses disposable trays or serves food that is ‘ready to heat’ and not cooked in house you have your work cut out for you. Check out Two Angry Moms for a deeper look at the school lunch program and what you can do to change it.
Check out this preview of Two Angry Moms for more info on their mission.


Funding for Green School Initiatives

Research grants from the federal government or private sources to help fund your green school initiative. Check out the Department of Education website for more information on how to start funding. They have links to many programs that are free and just waiting to be brought into your child’s school.

If just ONE green-minded parent helped enact a few changes in their child’s education, that same environmental lesson may also be absorbed by hundreds of other kids in that same school. And if those 100’s of other kids go home and lay just a little bit of a guilt trip on their parents for idling in the parking lot, you have taken a huge step towards improving our environment.

The eco friendly school ideas that you implement in the classroom may very well make it back home without any additional effort on your part.

Please share your eco friendly school ideas with me!

3 thoughts on “Eco Friendly School Ideas for Greener Classrooms and Smaller Footprints”

  1. What an inspiring post! I’ve been thinking about this issue for awhile but don’t really know where to start. The school lunch issue is huge for me. I send lunches with my kids. I would really like to start a veggie garden where the kids can learn how to grow food. I really like your idea about an environmental club. I need to act.

  2. Thanks so much for the support and ideas! I love the idea of a veggie garden and selling them to raise money! The area of the country I live in isn’t known for it’s Green Initiatives but I keep hoping the message is getting across anyhow!

  3. I work for a non-profit environmental group and right now I can tell you that you’re right. There is a big push with federal grant money being passed onto schools under the Safe Routes to School Program.

    I passed your blog post onto my co-worker who handles our program here in South Jersey.

    Yay for green!


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