The first part in our green classroom article series, “How to make your classroom green”, is not particularly groundbreaking, but hopefully it will be a good point of reference. Use the diagram below to help make sure your classroom incorporates the 8 essential elements of a green classroom. You’ll see the 8 parts explained below. Please add your own ideas and suggestions in the comments.
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Are your windows letting out too much heat in winter and letting in too much heat in summer? If you have old windows this may be the case. Get someone to hold a piece of black card or paper up behind the window. Get a torch and shine it on to the edges of the window. If light shines directly onto the card or paper, your windows are badly insulated around the edges. In which case you’ll need to improve the insulation in order to save money reduce energy waste. Ask your caretaker to take a look. By improving the insulation of your windows you’ll save money and improve the temperature of your classroom in both summer and winter.
2. Recycling Boxes
Here’s a fact for you: “Every ton of recycled paper saves about 17 trees“.
If nothing else you should certainly have a paper recycling box in your classroom. If you have a cardboard box left over from some old packaging you could use that to store the paper. Make the recycling bin(s) more accessible than the normal bin to encourage recycling and display a poster above the recycling box(es), asking that everyone recycle whenever possible. Click below to download a free poster to stick up above your bins.
3. Bin bags in the classroom?
If you teach in an art or technology class you’ve probably got larger bin liner lined bins. If so, make sure you’re using degradable bin liners. These biodegradable, recycled refuse sacks will degrade to water, carbon dioxide and biomass in the presence of soil, moisture and oxygen.
4. Rechargeable batteries
According to Northumbria University up to 30,000 tonnes of general purpose batteries are generated each year in the UK, yet less than 1,000 tonnes are recycled. It is possible to recycle used batteries. Some businesses offer a school collection services. However it is better to re-use than to recycle. The worst thing you can do is to throw used batteries away, sending them to the landfill, where their toxic chemicals will enter the environment. The best thing you can do is purchase some rechargeable batteries, or preferably use mains powered devices where possible.
5. Whiteboard Markers
Use refillable whiteboard marker pens. You can purchase refillable recycled whiteboard pens that take recycled refill cartridges.
6. Stop junk mail
If you’re getting junk mail delivered to your name or the name of someone who no-longer works at your school, stop it, don’t just bin it every time you receive it.
It may be annoying to have to phone up the individual companies, or email them, but it’s better to do that once than bin their junk mail every time you receive it.
Register with the Mailing Preferences Service to have your address removed from mailing lists, but remember, if there are mail outs you use, be careful not to have them stopped.
To stop unwanted leaflets, print out our free sticker download, laminate it and stick it up by your mail box.
7. Turn the lights off
This is an area of mild controversy. Should you turn fluorescent lights off if leaving the room for less than fifteen minutes? In general, yes. You will probably save energy if you turn the lights off whenever you leave the room. However, the life times of fluorescent lights are based on the number of times they are switched on and off. However, the life time is also based on how long the light is left on in total. The amount of extra energy used in powering up the light is negligible in comparison to the amount of energy used leaving the light on. So, here is the conclusion: turn the lights off when you’re the last to leave the room. Simple as that. This is important because lights are actually one of the biggest consumers of energy in buildings.
Energy saving light bulbs can make a big difference, both to energy consumption and the energy bill. They also last longer than regular bulbs. If you’re using fluorescent lighting go for high energy efficiency low mercury tubes.
Start doing four day weeks
If none of the above helps, why not try a four day week to cut energy costs!
We’ve included 8 points to get you started. Are there any other things you have or do in your classroom to make it more eco-friendly? If so use the comments form below to tell us about them.
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