In the guide below, we list potential sustainability tips for schools.
These tips cover not only classrooms, but other aspects of schools too.
This guide may complement a separate guide we put together regarding potential sustainability tips specifically for students.
1. Consider Teaching The Basics Of Sustainability Within Classes
The basic principles and tips relating to sustainability can be taught in various ways at schools
It might be taught as it’s own subject, or, it might be taught for a class or two as part of another subject.
Teachers may even set students a sustainability related project/assignment to do, or take them on a sustainability related excursion.
2. Consider Making Students’ Parents Aware Of Sustainability At The School
Schools might make some sort of effort to make students’ parents aware of sustainability at the school.
This might be in the public information that is communicated to the general public (for prospective students), in the school newsletter, as part of homework for students (where they are encouraged to talk to their parents about a sustainability class or subject as part of their learning), or even at parent teacher interviews.
It doesn’t have to be in-depth, but it might be something basic just so parents have an idea that part of the focus of education at the school.
3. Consider Going Paperless Where Possible
In some instances, staff and students may be able to go paperless
This may involve going electronic/digital (on a laptop, electronic notebook, etc.) instead of using paper for activities like taking notes, doing assignments/projects, and so on.
The sustainability benefit of this would less of a paper footprint, and less paper waste.
4. Where Using Paper, Consider Use Both Sides Of The Paper
In some instances, using paper may be more practical or unavoidable.
In these instances, such as note taking in a notebook, using both sides of the paper can be a more sustainable and efficient use of the paper.
5. Consider Sustainable Printing Practices
Some practices that might lead to more sustainable printing at schools might be:
– Using sustainable paper
– Printing on both sides of the paper where practical
– Using eco friendly printer ink where possible
– Using an eco friendly setting on the printer where possible
6. Consider Going Eco Friendly For School Supplies Where Practical
There’s a range of school supplies that teachers and schools use, such as pens, pencils, colored markers, and more.
For each of these types of supplies, there may be more ‘eco friendly’ products available on the market compared to the traditional version of each of these product types.
7. Potentially Reduce Packaging Waste By Considering Buying School Supplies In Bulk
For the school supplies listed above, and also other miscellaneous supplies like classroom supplies, schools may be able to reduce packaging waste (like plastic packaging) by buying some of these supplies in bulk instead of being individually wrapped.
8. Consider Encouraging The Use Of Reusable Items
Staff and teachers may use reusable and washable items where possible, such as reusable water bottles/drink bottles, food/lunch containers, and so on.
This may help reduce single use packaging waste, like water bottles, food wrap, etc.
9. Consider Providing Adequate Bins & Waste Disposal Points Around The School
Staff and students need both enough bins, and also the right types of bins to dispose of waste around the school campus.
These bins can involve general waste bins, recycling bins, and even organic waste bins.
10. Sort School Waste Into The Appropriate Waste Streams, & Consider Composting
After staff and students have disposed of waste, it still needs to be picked up by waste management companies.
Schools might make sure waste is sorted in the appropriate waste streams for pick up.
They may also consider a school compost operation if practical, and if there’s appropriate organic waste to do so.
11. Consider Periodic Volunteer Litter Pickups Around The School
Schools may consider periodic volunteer litter pickups for staff and students around the campus
12. Consider If Planting Trees, & Adding Plants Around The School Would Be Beneficial
Where practical and beneficial, adding trees and plant life around the school might be beneficial for society, as it adds to oxygen production, and helps with carbon sequestration, and tress in particular can also have some local benefits too.
Plant life and trees might be local species, and not be too water hungry.
Beyond adding plants and trees, when replacing plant life around the school, or even lawns, less water hungry species might be used as replacements in areas where the type or aesthetic of the plant life or lawn matters less.
13. Consider If A Starting A Small School Garden Would Be Beneficial
School gardens can in some instances be used for educational purposes.
Some schools may use them to teach students things such as the basics of growing plants and food (like herbs, and easy to grow food), and they may use these skills later in their life.
14. Consider The Sustainable Management Of Electronic Devices At School
For electronics like computers, schools might consider ways they can manage them more sustainably, such as repairing and updating them whilst in use.
Instead of throwing them out when are no longer needed or wanted, schools may consider re-selling or donating them instead.
Delivering them to e-waste recyclers may be another option, especially for laptop batteries.
15. Consider The Sustainable Use & Management Of School Furniture
Tables and chairs are common furniture items used by schools.
There might be a range of ways schools might use and manage furniture more sustainably, such as:
– Buying sustainably made furniture
– Repairing furniture where practical
– Selling or donating unwanted or unneeded furniture
– Recycling furniture and furniture waste
16. Consider The Sustainable Use Of Electricity & Energy Around The School
There might be several ways to use electricity and energy more efficiently or sustainably, such as:
– Using energy efficient lighting
– Using energy efficient appliances and devices
– Using timers and other features that help conserve/save energy
– Making use of blinds for classrooms in the summer to minimize heat getting in
17. Consider Whether A Solar Panel Setup Would Be Beneficial For The School
This isn’t always practical or feasible.
But, in some instances, solar panels may be both sustainable from an energy supply point of view, whilst also working out to be feasible from a financial perspective for schools on long enough time scales.
There’s several factors to take into account though before schools should consider doing this, as it might not be suitable for some schools.
18. Consider The Sustainable Use Of Water Around The School
We put together a separate guide about using water sustainably around schools.
19. Consider Sustainable Irrigation & Sprinkler Practices
Some schools have large campuses with lawns, ovals or plant life that need extensive irrigation/watering.
Another might be maintaining these systems properly and periodically checking for leaks.
Some systems may also use more sustainable sources of water where safe to do so.
20. Consider If A Rainwater Harvesting/Collection Setup Would Be Beneficial For The School
Some commercial businesses benefit from having a rainwater harvesting/collection setup for various reasons, so, it makes sense that some schools might too.
Assuming it’s feasible and beneficial, schools might then use this water for safe and hygienic uses around the school.
21. Consider A Periodic Water Leak Audit Around The School
One way that schools might be losing water that they might not be aware of might be water leaks.
With this in mind, schools may conduct periodic water leak audits to identify some of the more major water leaks that can be fixed around the school.
Taps might be a common source of leaks, but also water pipes and fittings.
22. Consider Whether Teachers Doing A Sustainability Audit Of Their Classrooms Is Beneficial
This might involve checking things such as:
– Waste is managed sustainably
– That bins that available and are being regularly serviced
– Lighting and electronics are energy efficient, or being used in a sustainable way
23. Consider Whether Sustainability Related Public Grants Are Available To Schools, & Whether Programs Are Set Up
In some instances, local governments and organisations may offer assistance in the form of grants, or have programs set up for schools that implement sustainability in various ways.
24. Look At Examples Of Sustainability At Other Schools For Ideas
Schools may be able to look to others schools, both locally and nationally, for ideas of what they are doing in regards to sustainability.
It may be able to implement some ideas, whilst the practices or results of other schools may also act as a benchmark in some instances.
25. Consider Formulating A School Policy &/Or Guidelines Document Around Sustainability
It might only be very basic, but, some schools may benefit from formulating a sustainability policy or guidelines document that outlines things such as basic sustainability goals and practices of the school.
26. Consider How School Contractors Can Be More Sustainable
Schools employ a range of contractors for a range of tasks, such as cleaning, groundskeeping, repairs and trades work, and so on.
Where practical, schools may consider contractors that are sustainable in some aspect with the works they perform.
27. Consider The Sustainability Benefit Of Online Classes & Education
Online classes aren’t practical in all instances.
However, where they are, they may help remove the transport footprint (to and from school or campus) for students and also teachers.
1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides