The time is now to make your school greener. Whether your school building is brand new and LEED certified, or if it’s older and you’re not sure how upgraded things are, there are always ways to be kinder to the Earth within and outside of your facility. It’s actually pretty easy for faculty, staff, and students to all get involved in making your school greener! Here are just a few ideas.
Schools are typically large buildings that require many, many light bulbs. In fact, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, lighting can account for almost 50% of a school’s electrical bill. CFL and LED light bulbs use 50% to 80% less energy than traditional florescent bulbs. Although it’s an investment for schools to make the light bulb switch, it will save money (and the environment) in the long run.
Another easy way to save money by saving energy in schools is to make sure electronics are shut down and/or unplugged when not in use. This means:
- Putting computers in sleep mode during the day, and turning them off and unplugging them or turning off the power strips at night
- Unplugging other not-in-use electronics, such as chargers, projectors, and televisions
- Keeping charging stations on only as needed. If they can be turned off at night and back on in the morning, do so.
Recycling is immensely important for schools. Not only does it keep recyclable items out of the landfill, but it also teaches students to take those recycling skills and use them at home. There are multiple ways all throughout the school building to make recycling a regular part of the day. A couple of those ways are:
- Lunch room: Buying something such as applesauce in bulk rather than small plastic cups will reduce the amount of plastic that you have to throw away.
- Recycle art project materials: Put paper scraps in the right bin, dispose of old/unusable materials in the correct ways, keep big scraps to reuse/think of creative ways to use them
- Books: Even when books are no longer relevant for you and your classroom, schools who can’t afford to buy new books will gladly take them.
- Conserve paper: Have a paper due next week? Have students print on the front and back sides of paper in order to use less.
- Excite students: Kids will be more excited to recycle if they’ve contributed a personal touch to the effort. Get kids to help decorate recycle bins. For example, you can use a box for paper recycling, and let kids draw on it with markers. If they’re young kids, have them draw a picture of how they recycle to decorate the wall by the bin. Get them involved!
- Make a big art project out of recycled materials to gain the attention of the whole school. Have students collect bottles or cans from recycle bins around the school and at home, and create some sort of sculpture or other art project. Get creative!
Going green and being eco-friendly aren’t only about saving energy and recycling. There are several ways for your cafeteria to go green, too! While these ideas might require a little more work and more involvement to make the change, the payoff is great.
- Composting: Set up a school compost pile, or find some nearby at different farms and community gardens that would be willing to take school compost. Give compostable materials back to the Earth!
- Local Food: Buying locally-grown food will not only help the local economy, but will also ensure fresher produce, and less air pollution without all the food transport.
- Buy in Bulk: As we mentioned in the recycling section, buying some foods in bulk cuts down on packaging, so there’s less to throw away. Also, it usually costs less to buy, since you don’t have to buy the packaging.
If your school is in the Minnesota area and you’re ready to save money by saving energy, contact us! Our program is completely free for nonprofits. We’ll analyze the inner workings of your facility, and then help you put new processes and materials in place (again, at no cost to you) to save your facility money by saving energy.