10 Tips for Teaching Eco-Conscious Students

When it comes to buying school supplies, many students worry about how much of what they use goes to waste. Today’s kids are incredibly aware of the environment around them and many want to go to extra lengths to go “green.”

To help foster interest in the environment, here are 10 tips to make your classroom an eco-friendly environment.

1. Start with school supplies.
Your school supply list is one of the first impressions your students will have of your classroom. Set an immediate example of your dedication to helping the environment through your school supply list. Don’t require your students to buy excessive amounts of materials, and ask students to buy natural materials to help the environment. Consider speaking about products that make a positive impact on the world such as the new Me To We line of back-to-school products available at Staples. For the first time, students and parents have the power to make a difference with their back-to-school purchases and help children in need in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

2. Plan your classroom.
Before your students arrive on the first day of school, plan how your classroom will appeal to eco-conscious students. Bring in a few extra plants to add more life to your room. If you have a sink in your classroom, make sure the faucet does not leak. Making small improvements around your classroom has a big impact on students who love “green” living.

3. Create a classroom culture around the recycling.
From the first day of school, set the expectation that in your classroom, everyone helps the environment. Encourage your students to recycle all papers and trash in your classroom, and build a lesson around recycling to get them on board.

4. Bring in organic snacks.
If you bring snacks for your students to share on birthdays or special days, make your snacks organic and environmentally friendly. Not only will you help your students eat a little bit healthier, but you’ll also show your passion for helping the environment.

5. Make your projects Earth-friendly.
Don’t ask your students who love the environment to print out excessive amounts of paper for a project. Instead, encourage your students to turn in homework and projects in a more environmentally friendly way, such as emailing homework instead of wasting paper and ink.

6. Plan one big environment project for your entire classroom.
Each year, bring your students together to collaborate on one big project. This project teaches teamwork and unites your classroom while working on major action to help the environment. For example, you can plant a tree or adopt a highway. Also, look at what some companies are doing to promote the environment – especially some of the awards and bursaries available to your school, classroom or community group. It’s a nice way to get students to work together for a good cause/program.

7. Go on eco-conscious field trips.
No matter what subject you teach, your students will appreciate getting out for a field trip a few times each semester. Incorporate eco-friendly elements where you can: if you can take the bus instead of recruiting multiple parents to drive, you’ll save gas. Go visit your local recycling centre to show your students what happens to their plastic bottles.

8. Set a good example outside of the classroom.
Your students are watching you whether you realize it or not. Continue all of the eco-friendly habits you teach about in your classroom in your daily life. For example, you can carpool to school with another teacher, or bring Fair Trade coffee into your classroom to drink each morning. Your students will notice more than you might realize.

9. Go outside.
Instead of keeping your students stuck inside with their noses in books, take your classroom outside. Find a spot in the shade for your students to read. Go with your classroom to the courtyard while they write reports or brainstorm in study groups. Getting kids outside and in the environment they love will stimulate learning and make it more fun.

10. Have fun with it.
Kids will be kids. Wearing your students out on environmentally friendly activities could have a reverse effect from what you’re trying to achieve.  Making your classroom focused around eco-friendly activities should not lead to moans and groans. Keep every project, experiment, and field trip enjoyable and upbeat so your students continue to have a passion for saving the environment.

From before the start of school and long after your students leave your classroom, set a positive example. With these teaching tips both inside and outside the classroom, your eco-conscious students will develop a new respect for you as a teacher and person.

By Susan Payton

July 14, 2014

Small Business Content Developer at BizLaunch.com