Recycling at school - children learning how to recycle waste

School Recycling – 3 Reasons to Do it Well and How to Improve Recycling at Your School

recycling-at-school2There are so many good reasons to champion the cause of recycling in our schools. Here are three of the most important ones: 1) EDUCATIONAL VALUE - Explaining why we need to recycle gives us opportunities to teach students about related issues such as:
  • Over-use of harmful chemicals
  • Preserving biodiversity and wildlife habitat
  • Deforestation
  • Global water pollution
  • Employment and economic development
  • Global warming
2) SCHOOL IS THE BEST PLACE TO START - It’s so much easier to pick up good habits when you’re young. Better still, pupils who become enthusiastic about recycling will take their values home with them. They’ll also take them with them when they join the workforce. Unlike us adults who hate to make a fuss, kids have no such qualms – “You don’t have a recycling bin? My teacher said that’s DISGUSTING!” 3) IMPACT - There are 3.5 million kids attending 4,221 schools in Australia alone. Schools and pupils discard thousands of tons of recyclable resources each year – paper, cans, bottles, electronics, batteries, food and more besides. If all schools became careful recyclers the impact on our environment would be huge. 85% of our waste is recyclable. Yet much of this waste still goes to landfill, contributing to all the problems mentioned in the previous point.

How to Improve Your School’s Recycling

USE THE RIGHT TOOLS - Efficient recycling requires a simple foolproof system for separating waste streams. It’s vital to avoid cross-contamination of waste streams at any stage. Once mixed together, it’s difficult, time consuming and costly to separate items again. Wherever you place your waste bins, make sure there’s a bin for each waste stream with clear signage for each stream. This helps prevent mistakes and makes it easy for everyone to follow the system. Colour coding your bins with separate colours for each stream is perhaps the best way to prevent mistakes. The Eco Bin system employs this method.

Ensuring Staff and Student Buy-In

MAKE IT FUN AND INTERESTING - There are so many ways that recycling can be turned into engaging school projects and lessons. A quick web search will yield hundreds of ideas for every conceivable subject: science, economics, sociology, geography, mathematics and art and even music! PARTICIPATE IN EVENTS - Here in Australia we have a number of national events focused on recycling and closely related issues. For example:
  • National Recycling Week
  • Clean up Australia Day
  • National Tree day
Your school’s participation will be a great way to help raise awareness and make a difference. MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS AND DISCUSS - If you’re considering an scheme to improve recycling in your school, waste audits before and after will help everyone see the benefits. Another interesting topic - How does Australia compare to other nations when it comes to recycling and consumption? And of course ongoing waste audits are a great way to help everyone focus on continual reduction of consumption.

Additional Resources to Help Improve Your School’s Recycling

Check out Planet Ark’s excellent downloadable guide: How to Set Up A School Recycling System Here are some more resources:
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