Waste Reduction Week
Did you know a lunch packed with reusable items is typically 45% less expensive and contains 89% less waste than a lunch packed with single use items? School is the perfect place to practice waste reduction. Check out how to run a school waste audit on the WRW in Canada website or run your own composting or recycling programs. The lessons children learn in school can become lifetime habits. Below are some activities for teachers and students; for other classroom activities, see our attached actvities.
- Hold a "waste-free" lunch day, week or month! Encourage students to pack their lunches in a reusable bag or lunch box, use resealable containers for sandwiches or snacks, a thermos for drinks and a cloth napkin and reusable utensils.
- Involve the whole school in a competition measuring each class's waste, hold a secret tally and announce the winning class at an assembly.
- Turn off the lights, computers and other electrical equipment when not in use. Try leaving the lights off on bright, sunny days—it's free energy and studies have shown that natural light can improve student test scores by 5% to 21%.
- Encourage students and staff to turn off taps when they're finished washing and to use only the amount of paper towel they need (air dryers can eliminate the need for paper towels completely).
- Vermicomposting is a great way to compost indoors - using Red Wiggler worms. These critters eat and excrete their own weight in left-over lunch scraps every day! You can feed your worms vegetables and fruit, coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells.
- Plant a tree...or two...or three. One tree can help reduce global warming by absorbing an estimated 669 kg of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Trees protect kids from the sun and absorb toxic pollutants. Shade trees cool down buildings to lessen air-conditioning requirements and reduce heating costs.
- Students can research a product's lifecycle to discover the amount of natural resources needed to design, produce, deliver and dispose of commercial goods. Students can pick an item like a car, T-shirt, banana, running shoes, etc. and then consider 1) what kind of equipment is required to grow or extract the raw resources? 2) what kind of fuel is required to extract, process, manufacture and transport the resources? 3) how might some of these environmental impacts be avoided?
- "Crazy Crayons"—Gather up old and broken crayons and ship them to: Crayon Recycle Program, 721 Village Road, Pelican Lake, Wisconsin, 54463, USA. For more information, see the Crazy Crayons website.
For more school waste reduction suggestions, see "Back to school, forward with waste reduction".
For information on conducting a waste audit / waste assessment of your school or school district, see the EPA's website.