Here are some easy & fun ideas for reducing waste at school. Teachers, staff, and students can work together to make a big difference!
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Give your cafeteria, classroom, and hallway waste stations a makeover for the new school year! Effective waste stations have:
Clear Signage: Print and hang helpful signs above each garbage and recycling can. Signs that are taped to the sides of the bin are difficult to see. For now, print one of our existing lunchroom signs (pdf). Soon, we'll have a customizable signmaker available!
Twin the Bins: Put a recycling bin next to every garbage bin. If they are similar shapes or colors, consider painting the rim of the recycling bin blue. Work with your custodian or district to get extra bins if needed.
Blue for Recycling: It can be confusing when the garbage and recycling bins are the same color or shape! An easy fix is to spray paint the lid of the recycling bin blue. Standardize this throughout your school.
Hard to Recycle Items: Start a collection program for hard-to-recycle items like ink cartridges, pens, or packaging. Terracycle (external site) offers free recycling programs your school can use!
Audit the Waste: In a waste audit, you look through the contents of a garbage or recycling bin to see if they are sorted correctly. Waste audits help answer questions like: Is recyclable material ending up in the garbage? Is garbage or compost material ending up in the recycling? How much good cafeteria food is being tossed in the garbage?
Ask Your Experts: Custodians and lunchroom helpers know best what waste-related challenges your school faces. Working closely with them will help your recycling project be successful!
Smarter Lunchrooms: The way food is displayed in the lunch line makes a big difference for waste and nutrition! The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (external site) has fun and easy tips you can use in your cafeteria today.
Share Extra Food: Washington School Food Share is a simple program that allows schools and food banks to work together to collect whole, packaged, and/or uneaten cafeteria leftovers and share it within the community. The US EPA has designed toolkit of resources (pdf) especially for Washington schools to use!
Audit the Food Waste: The U.S. EPA recently developed a Guide for Conducting Student Food Waste Audits at Schools (external site).
Student Involvement & Certification Washington Green Schools is an organization that helps adults and students tackle environmental problems at their school. Sign-up for free and receive tailored support, project tools, and special certification. They make it easier to be green!