Back to school never looked quite like this. With the threat of coronavirus still looming, school administration leaders and teachers have their hands full protecting students. It may seem there’s no space for anything but teaching, but a distraction from all this stress would actually help staff and students cope.
Why not make your distraction of choice productive and unifying by working together to improve your recycling? For some practical help in this area, read about the top ways to increase school recycling.
Add and Clearly Mark Recycling Bins
To start, everyone in the building needs enough recycling bins to meet demand. Without saying a word, your recycling may increase simply by providing more frequent points of contact wherever recyclables end up. Beyond the classroom, this means stocking the hallways, break rooms, and cafeteria. Don’t neglect the perimeter of your campus either—a few outdoor recycling bins are good for catching paper and plastics as kids come and go.
Still, stationing them everywhere doesn’t allow you to recover as much if your bins don’t have proper markings. When shopping for your school, look for engaging, age-specific, and clear bin graphics to best promote recycling.
Start a Composting Program
You have an additional opportunity in the cafeteria. Cut down on the significant organic waste kids throw out by implementing a compost program. First, procure compost-ready bins—some varieties separate into paper, plastic, and organic waste to tackle everything a student could dispose of.
As you get going, educate your student body on what they can compost. Stress the importance of separating materials before tossing food in while showing them it isn’t as hard as it sounds. To recover preconsumer food waste, talk to kitchen staff about composting products they can’t give to students.
Make Recycling a Game
Teachers will need to occupy students in more creative ways than ever given how the pandemic limits what they can do in the classroom. Give them a recycling initiative, and they can turn it into a game.
Teachers, split your class into two or more teams. They can dress up recycling bins according to their team color or mascot and compete to see who can correctly recycle the highest poundage of paper, plastics, and more. Award each team points at the end of each week and keep a running tally—you can even give each week a unique mission. It’s little diversions like this that build class camaraderie and help you forget what’s going on around you for a moment.
Give Environmentally Conscious Students a Voice
Our final way to increase school recycling, particularly in junior high and high schools, is to create a sustainability council. While some kids will find recycling boring if their teachers and administration design the program, they may be more likely to engage if the initiative is led by their peers. Plus, you never know what good ideas their creativity will yield. In the long run, participation in a council like this can spur further attention to the environment, meaning this could have a broader impact than you ever imagined.