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Green Your School Year

COMMUNITY CENTERGreen EducationAug 22, 2017Guest Contributor

Author: Guest Contributor

G is for Green! Practice the 3 Rs of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling this fall

Reading, writing and arithmetic may be top of mind as the school year approaches, but parents and students should also be thinking of reducing, reusing and recycling as they head back to school. These simple green tips will save families time and money, while making the school transition easy on the environment!

  • Take Inventory: Before hitting the store for school supplies, take inventory of what is already around the house. See if last year’s staples—such as binders, pencil cases, supply boxes and backpacks—could be used for another term.
  • Close the Recycling Loop: When purchasing new items, such as pens, paper, notebooks and pencils, look for products made from recycled materials to close the recycling loop.
  • Choose Paperless: Many schools, PTAs and student clubs offer the option of paperless correspondence. Instead of receiving both hard and electronic copies of the school newsletter, fundraisers and announcements, sign up for electronic only and save these in an e-file for future reference.
  • Stockpile Cool Stuff for Art Projects: Those old magazines, cloth scraps, bottle caps and toilet paper rolls could be transformed into amazing works of art. Ask your student’s teachers if they can use such items.
  • Waste-free Lunch: No need to pack green eggs and ham to send children to school with a green lunch. Follow these quick tips for a waste-free lunch:
    • Use reusable meal/snack containers instead of plastic baggies
    • Send flatware instead of disposable utensils
    • Use refillable drink bottles instead of juice boxes or bottled water
  • Buy Used and Save: Consignment and thrift stores give clothes a second life and your wallet a break! Before buying new apparel, see what’s available at local secondhand stores. In addition, many PTAs sell used school uniforms as a way to fund field trips and special programs.
  • Catch the Bus: While walking or biking to school is the greenest way to get to class, sending your child to school on the bus saves gas and puts less cars on the road, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions and improved air quality.
  • Clean up your School’s Act: Organize a schoolyard cleanup at your school each fall and spring. Cleanup events are a great opportunity for students, parents, teachers and neighbors to come together to give your school’s outdoor area a good once-over. Pick up litter, rake leaves, spread mulch, plant native plants and repair and spruce up the playground for an A+ schoolyard.
  • Set up a School Recycling Program: If your school doesn’t provide recycling in classrooms or the cafeteria, speak with the administrators about starting one. Schools can also compete for national awards and prizes in competitive recycling contests such as the Recycle-Bowl or the Trex plastic bag recycling program.

Just for Teachers

We have lots of resources available just for teachers including Green Learning, a free education guide geared toward the region’s sixth-grade classrooms. Written according to Virginia SOL guidelines by a team of experts who work in the region’s public works and public utilities departments, Green Learning is packed with colorful maps, bold graphics, puzzles and fun activities specific to the Hampton Roads environment. Download Green Learning and the Teacher’s Guide now and stay tuned for an exciting announcement regarding a new edition coming in 2018!

Teachers can also apply for environmental education mini-grants of up to $500 from The mini-grants are intended to provide funding for environmentally-themed projects and may be used to fund projects big and small. Start planning your project now!

Teachers can encourage their students to practice green behaviors around the classroom with the Green Classroom Pledge. Teachers can recognize and reward students at random throughout the school year for practicing green classroom behaviors such as using scrap paper, picking up litter or packing low waste lunches.

How will you green your school year? Let us know on Facebook!