By Esther Blair
A United Nations report put forth data indicating that serious action needs to be taken worldwide in the next decade to avoid potentially catastrophic and irreversible climate change. While this information can seem dire, teachers can educate their classrooms on how to be more environmentally friendly and let students each play their own small part in living sustainably.
Here are some simple ways that you can help students learn to care for the earth, reduce their carbon footprint and take responsibility for their impact on the planet.
If you haven’t already, now would be a great time to switch to online forms, records, test and paper submissions, etc. If you find that you do need to use paper, try to ensure that it is recycled. Encourage students to use both sides of paper as well.
Make the switch to environmentally friendly classroom products, including cleaning and school supplies. You can make your own or commit to purchasing cleaners that use more natural ingredients.
Having plants in the classroom can help teach children about plant life cycles and processes such as photosynthesis. If possible, start a garden outdoors, where you can grow vegetables to teach about sustainability, food production and nutrition. Give students the responsibility of watering, re-potting, weeding and caring for the class garden — you may be surprised at how much they enjoy it!
Unplug all computers and other electronics when you leave for the day to help reduce your classroom’s carbon footprint. Have students form “green teams” to unplug different items such as computers, screens, etc. so that they can get in on the power-saving efforts (and hopefully create lifelong habits).
Adopt an endangered animal
Teach students that how we treat the environment affects the animals and wildlife by “adopting” an endangered species.
There are a few different conservation sites that will send a certificate of adoption and fun facts about endangered species for a donation. This is a fun way for your students to feel like they are giving back while helping them become more aware of their impact on the world around them.
The World Wildlife Foundation is a great resource.
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