Educators can become climate leaders with small changes in their classrooms 

Reducing their carbon footprint in the classroom doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming for educators. By taking small steps, such as recycling and reusing materials, teachers can create a climate-smart classroom that makes a lasting impact.

To encourage recycling, teachers can create containers to collect snack packaging and other materials. As the school year goes on, teachers can also collect dried up markers for recycling and, instead of throwing them away, melt broken crayons to form new ones.

Another way to reduce carbon footprint in the classroom is to replace single-use items, such as paper towels, plates and cups, with reusable ones, and use paper folders instead of plastic.

Teachers can also replace their traditional dry erase markers with refillable versions and, instead of using paper just one time, reuse it, and then recycle. For projects, use cardboard as an alternative to paper, and wet glue and sponges in place of glue sticks. If available, teachers should also consider using an outdoor classroom for science and conservation lessons.

While they can serve as a leader in establishing a climate-smart classroom, teachers should also get their students involved to ensure success. Make it fun, encourage creativity and develop a rewards system for good conservation behaviors such as recycling plastic, glass, and paper, composting food scraps, and bringing their lunch and snacks in reusable food storage containers. Additionally, students should be encouraged to take the lessons they learn in the classroom and adopt them at home.

By taking these small, but important steps in the classrooms, educators can not only become leaders in building resiliency in the face of our changing climate, but also ensure future generations are learning how to protect the environment.