How to Reduce Waste in Schools

Phoebe Adams 2016-11-18 14:00:00


A lot has changed since the days when all the students of a school would be taught in one room. From economics to the environment, we need to change how we use resources when we teach our children. If we practice the 3 Rs in the classroom, we can help teach the new generations towards being good environmental stewards, conserve precious resources, and divert waste, all in one go. Read on to see how.


The first and best way to reduce the rubbish we produce is to not make it in the first place. For example, in school, you can promote the students bring in lunches that don’t produce waste. When making copies, use both sides of the paper. Better yet, does every single person need a copy? For teacher meetings, post minutes on a staff bulletin board and/or email them to members rather than handing out a copy to each person.Does each sibling take home a copy of handouts, forms, and notices? A little organization can really make an impact on paper waste, thus saving both the environment and the budget.


Encourage staff and students to use reusable/refillable things like tape dispensers, toner cartridges, and pens. Reuse scrap paper in both office and classroom. Keep a bin next to the copy machine and use it for paper that has one blank side that can still be used.

Encourage the local community to donate things that can be reused, like coffee cans, containers, and other things that can be used for crafts, old computers that still work, furniture, and even office equipment.

Avoid disposable cutlery and dishes in the cafeteria. This will send a message to the students to avoid unnecessary waste and save money at the same time.

Set up a flea market or swap day of donated/unused items to help as a fundraiser. This also diverts reusable goods away from the trash stream.



Most waste generated in schools is made from paper or paper products. Out of that, most is generated in the classroom.

Begin a recycling program in the school and invite students to become involved in the collection, marketing, and promotion of the program. Here’s how:

[1] Talk to the custodian/janitor about the existing waste-handling system see what is in the waste stream that can be recovered. If the school offers soda machines, for example, make sure there are recycling bins throughout the school. Set up a group to return the cans for a refund, if applicable.

[2] Find out where the recovered material will go. Is there a recycler nearby that will accept paper for recycling? If so, do they accept shredded paper? You may also want to consult with a professional shredding company such as Shred-it to explore your possible options.

[3] Ask the students for help to set up the recycling program and place monitors in place to stay on top of problems. If there’s an environment club at the school, they may want to perform this role.

[4] Keep an eye on the results and offer feedback to both staff and students. Perhaps a contest to see who can reduce the most waste will help motivate everyone.

[5] Set up a composting projects and ask the environmental club to spearhead the program.


Educate on Waste Management

Programs, class trips, and speakers related to environmental issues can be a useful addition to the curriculum. Some ideas would include offering a paper-making session, the exploration of the life cycle of certain products, tours of waste management facilities or recycling depots, and projects that explore the science of composting and vermicomposting. Watch the below video by Valentino Ristevski to learn more about not wasting your waste: