Greener Education: A Teacher’s Guide to Encouraging Sustainability in the Classroom

Here at Carolina Fibre, we believe that teaching is still one of the nobler professions out there. After all, much of what we do revolves around understanding how the natural world works; otherwise, we wouldn’t know what to recycle and how to dispose of other materials in the safest way possible.
But how can you as an educator drive these points home with your students in the school year looming up ahead? Even if you don’t specialize in natural sciences, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate reminders to be kind to the planet in daily lesson plans as well as classroom décor and function.
Start the day off on the right foot
Do you remember when you’d first get to class, and your teacher would have an assignment on the board waiting for you? Designed to get students thinking about the day’s topic, or maybe even to get something else off their brains for a moment before the lesson begins, warm-up exercises and daily journal topics can be a great outlet for middle and high school students during the school day. Plan ahead for some eco-friendly topics, or even take a moment each morning to scan the headlines for stories related to recycling, sustainability, and green movements that you can then translate into thought-provoking questions for students to ponder before you call class into session.
Decorate with knowledge
Informational posters don’t have to be cheesy or fade into the background. In fact, you might even choose not to decorate with posters at all! But if you do, try bringing some greenery into the classroom, whether that means selecting images with plant life and landscapes, or even inspirational messages about the beauty of nature and how it can help clear the mind.
If you’d rather go for a more authentic look and feel, check your school policy manual and find out what kinds of plants you can bring into the classroom. Unless one of your students turns out to be allergic to something in particular, you should be fine to bring in a small potted plant or two, just to liven up the space and remind your students that there’s a whole other world beyond the four walls of their school.
Reward positive behavior
When you teach the younger crowd, say kindergarten and elementary school students, it can be a little more difficult tying in sustainable practices and facts that they can understand beyond the simple truth that too much trash is a bad thing. To that end, we’ve found that games and rewards are always positive means of reinforcing those lessons of courteous behavior toward the planet. Make it a weekly competition to see who can point out more of the recycling bins around school, or give a monthly “green thumb” prize to the student who best adheres to classroom sustainability rules.
Can’t wait until school is back in session? Stay tuned to Carolina Fibre’s blog for more tips and sustainability hacks to help you live your greenest life.