What can schools do to reduce end-of-school-year waste and improve recycling? Everyone at school – students, staff, faculty, and custodians – has a role. A school green team or environmental club can lead some of the following activities that help a school stay true to its waste reduction commitment all year.
Hold a “zero waste” locker clean-out
- Designate a day for students to clean out their lockers and sort the contents for swapping, reusing, donating, and recycling so that as little as possible is thrown away.
- Let the custodians know of your plans so they can be aware of the effect on garbage and recycling containers.
- Gather some boxes (ask the kitchen staff) and label them “Swap or Reuse,” “Donation,” and “Recycle.” Make the swap boxes more specific by separating out spaces for pencils and pens, notebooks, teacher supplies, and other items.
- Find a teacher, staff member, or parent who will take the materials for donation as well as any leftovers from the swap to an appropriate site. (Try your local Goodwill.)
- Assign students to take the materials for recycling to a central or outdoor bin.
- Plan a school supply swap day among teachers for a subsequent day.
Organize a school supply swap
- Suggest to staff a swap of school supplies and find a day that works for most classes.
- Plan the big day to follow a locker or cubby clean-out.
- Decide upon the best space in which to organize the event in your school (gym, hallway, classroom, or library).
- Determine whether students and teachers participate, or just one of these groups.
- Take any leftover materials to a donation center (coordinate with the locker clean-out).
Set garbage and recycling service to “on call” to save money over the summer
- Rather than a regularly scheduled pick-up, the school calls the garbage and recycling haulers when the outdoor containers are full. The name of the service provider and telephone number can be found on the outdoor containers to request this on-call service.
- You may want to have the following information from your school to provide to the hauler: name on account, account number, dates for service hold, phone number, and email.
Find a good summer home for your worm bin
- Harvest the compost from the worm bin and add it to the school garden.
- Find a responsible student or staff member to take the bin home and manage it for the summer.
- Once or twice per week, the worms should be fed vegetable and grain food scraps (no meat, dairy, or oily foods).
Donate food from school kitchens
- Ask kitchen staff to identify food whose use-by dates will occur over the summer.
- Contact a local nonprofit with a food recovery program, such as Food Lifeline or Harvest Northwest.
- Coordinate a pick-up of food donations using these guidelines.
Congratulations on your waste reduction progress this school year. Have a wonderful summer!