Part Six: Environmental Classroom

Is the weekend here yet? This post was meant for yesterday but I was caught up in relaxing after another day of tornado watches and warnings. Today’s post is just as the title describes it: being Eco-friendly as a teacher & student and the struggles that go with it. We’ll wrap up this mini series later today with part seven’s positivity post and then off to the races as we race to the end of the month. That means a new month of blogs to write! ❤

Nice feather pen I won from NaNoWriMo write in in 2015. I finally used it up a month ago as I transition to reusable pens!

As a student

This past academic year, I’ve been working on ways to reduce the amount of waste during my commutes to and from the University of Oklahoma campus. Some days I do quite well with bringing my reusable cups and food containers. At least ten times I”ve forgotten my lunch and would have to buy lunch on campus.
On the days I forget my lunch, I always save the napkins, paper bag and any other things I’ll need instead of throwing them away. That usually leaves wrappers and Styrofoam left to recycle or throw in the trash. Recently, Fayetteville, Arkansas just banned Styrofoam which is exciting for those interested in environmentalism actions!
Starting in the fall, I most likely will have already gone through and downsized most of my office waste. The idea is to eventually buy a Apple Pencil to go with my iPad and begin taking notes that way. for now, I plan on continuing to use up the last of what I own before spending the money on reusable office supplies. With the transition to zero waste education comes a higher cost that I’m not ready to expound on yet, especially since I have all these office and school supplies I need to use up first.

One of the frustrations I’ve had as a student, involves the constant pressure of striving for a more Eco-friendly college style but needing to print out papers for class. I always cringe when someone throws paper in a trash can instead of a recycle bin. I haven’t seen too many professors switching to a more digital platform for learning. It seems that paper is the most wasteful part I’ve seen in the classroom. It’s been proven that you can remember more when you’ve handwritten notes, which is why I’d like to have an Apple pencil so I can still hand write note and reduce paper.

As a teacher

On the flip side of things, I’ve been hitting walls trying to infuse where I work with more Eco friendly printing and initiatives. There’s no recycling bins, we color a lot with the elementary kids, we have waste from snack baggies and plastic cups. The list goes on and I’ve found that I too am wasteful as a teacher.

Recently, I’ve had kids make sure they color on both sides of their pictures or wrote on both sides of their paper. Another tactic I use is that they only get one canvas, or a small certain amount of construction paper. For the most part this has been effective and has helped the children learn to take their time coloring, painting, or constructing things.

Where I work as a teacher, we only allow older kids to use markers, since the younger kids tend to forget to cap the markers. I’ve told my fellow teachers that we should only have one tub of crayons or colored pencils out at a time and make sure they are used up before moving to a different one. A part of the reduce, reuse, and recycle is to actually use the items we already have before buying more items that are better suited for the classroom and the environment.

The only other issue I’ve had is in the little paper cups and paper plates. I’ve been advocating to the students that they should start bringing their reusable water bottles over the summer, so we aren’t wasting as many tiny cups. Speaking of- I only allow one cup per student for a few hour stretch. Some of them love to destroy and craft with the cups and when they do that, then they’ll lose out on getting a second cup for water (at least for a few hours). I’ve seen a couple of kindergarten kids actually learn from this lesson and I plan on continuing to use this with the age group I’ll be working with this summer.

I’ve still got a ways to go before I’ll get to be in my own classroom and I hope to infuse environmentalism in my classroom management and teaching moments.
For the most part, I’ve had better success transitioning my apartment and lifestyle towards a zero waste lifestyle. Linked bellow in the buttons are various blogs I’ve written about this transition. Check out those (or any other blogs I’ve written over the past five years) by following me here on WordPress or saving a few of the articles for later.


Danielle’s writing career started as a musician first. She enjoys blogging about various subjects ranging from lifestyles, mental health, and topics relating to her English-Writing degree.
Posts are on MWF every week featuring the monthly Taking Inventory Series, photography features, and more!

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