10 Nifty Ways to Encourage Recycling in Your Classroom


Written by Victoria (Teach Starter)

     “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

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– New England proverb

Everyday at school, and at home, we end up throwing away many items that could be easily recycled and put to great use in our classrooms. By reusing everyday products we can help to reduce waste, save money, decrease our carbon footprint, and become more sustainable.

There are a number of ways that you could reduce, reuse, and recycle in your classroom.

Create a Recycling Center

Recycling in the Classroom

Use the Garbage Can Posters and Protect our Environment Recycle Poster to set up a recycling center in your classroom. Provide three clearly labeled bins for recycling, compost, and garbage and encourage students to put their waste into the correct bins. Set up incentives by creating class recycling goals and assign students to be the weekly recycling monitor.

Set Up a Worm Farm

With the permission of your principal, use the food scraps from your class lunches to set up a class worm farm. The compost from the worm farm can then be used in the school gardens or assist in creating a class veggie patch. The fruit and vegetables from the class veggie patch could then be sold to parents with proceeds going to a charity of the class’ choice.

Reward Environmental Heroes

Monitor students each week for their recycling efforts in the classroom and celebrate their achievements by rewarding students with an Environment Hero Award. The student who receives the environment hero award could then become the recycling monitor for the following week.

Make Your Own Paint Dispensers

Soap Dispensers in the Classroom

Use old soap containers and sauce bottles as easy to use paint dispensers. Remove the labels so that the color of the paint is visible. Using the dispenser for paint will avoid spillages and students pouring out more than they need. These can also be used for glue. Use glass bottles to hold paint brushes and the lids can be used for small amounts of paint.

Assign Personal Whiteboard Erasers

Collect all the odd socks from your  home (ask your parents to do the same) and assign one sock to each student as their personal whiteboard eraser. Students can use their personal whiteboard eraser when participating in individual and group activities involving small whiteboards. To create a class set of reusable individual whiteboards, laminate a blank sheet of cardstock for each student. To reduce costs, encourage students to bring in their own whiteboard markers.

Create Your Own Table Organizers

Classroom Desk Organisers

Put those old tissue boxes, to go containers, and class jars to good use by creating your own organizers. Cut off the top of old tissue boxes and wrap them in colorful wrapping paper, then place them in the center of your table groups as an organizer for school supplies and other everyday items. A great way to have certain items easily accessible to your students.

Storage for Art Supplies

Storing Art Supplies in the Classroom

Use clear to go containers and glass jars to store small art and craft supplies, such as ripped paper for mosaics, buttons, and glitter. Alternatively, use the containers to store math manipulatives such as base ten material, dice, and counters. By keeping these items in a clear container or jar, the equipment becomes visible, easy to store, and more accessible.

Store Classroom Equipment

Use old laundry baskets and recycle cardboard boxes to store a range of classroom equipment such as scrap paper, paint shirts, dress up clothes, toys, sporting equipment, games, and books.

Design Individual Game Pieces

Make your own Game Pieces

Ask each student to bring in a used water bottle lid to be their individual game piece when playing games in the classroom. Use markers or other craft supplies to decorate and personalize the lid. When it is time to play a game in the classroom, students can use their individual game piece.

Sorting Different Objects

Sorting Activity

Use muffin trays to sort different objects for a range of math activities and to organize classroom equipment.

For 15 ways to use Ziploc bags in the classroom, check out our blog: 15 Tips and Hacks for Ziploc Bags in the Classroom.

We would love to hear from you…what do you do to encourage recycling in your classroom?

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