abcteach blog

Going Back to School Green

July 23rd, 2010

With summer activities still on the horizon, it’s hard to believe that back-to-school planning is already at hand. As preparations begin for the new year, now is the perfect time to incorporate easy additions to green up your class.
The abundance of eco-news these days can be overwhelming, so what do you do with all the green tips? Start small. Implementing a few key modifications can have a big impression on students’ understanding, while reducing your classroom’s carbon footprint.


  • • Set out recycle bins (or compost, perhaps?) throughout your room to get students in the habit of proper disposal. Many recycle services are now “single stream,” so separating the paper from glass and plastic is no longer needed.
  • • Post signs and reminders (along with verbal reinforcement) to conserve energy, water, and supplies.
  • • Eliminate vampire power by unplugging computers, tvs, and other electronics.


  • • In welcome letters (or emails) to parents, encourage the purchase of eco-friendly supplies. Also, inform parents of your efforts to “go green” this year and ask for their ideas and support at home.
  • • 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Stress the importance of reducing consumption and reusing supplies before heading to the recycle bin
  • • Oldies but Goodies. Have students bring in materials/clothes from last year, and hold a “Back to School” swapping extravaganza within your grade.

Brain Food

  • • Organics know how to party! Switch snack time favorites with organic versions to instill healthy eating in your students. (Works for teachers, too!)
  • • Cut down on plastic waste in your classroom by encouraging BPA-free water bottles (preferably aluminum, as it can be recycled.)
  • • Paper? Bag it! Leave the disposable sacks at home in exchange for reuasble lunch bags. Perfect for teachers, students, and parents.

Teacher’s Corner

  • • Rethink Your Commute. Biking, public transport, or carpooling with colleagues decreases the stress of transit as well as your carbon footprint.
  • • Whether teaching in a class or at home, opt for Fair Trade coffee and teas during break time. Many national retailers offer daily varieties and bulk options are also available.
  • • And speaking of…do away with single service. Enjoy your favorite food and drink with non-disposable cups and plates, and switch individually-wrapped items with portions divvied from your kitchen.

And that’s just the beginning. Here’s a more comprehensive classroom list, as well as tips for parents to help support sustainability efforts in your school and district. Also, don’t forget to check out abcteach’s Think Green, Teach Green section, our growing supply of interactives, and remember our motto: “Print, Laminate, and Use Forever!”Let us know how they work for you and best of luck in your school year planning.
Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach team 

2 Responses to “Going Back to School Green”

  1. Christine

    These tips are very good, and I’m all for reducing and recycling. That said, I’ve noticed that abcteach offers an abundance of “green” teaching materials versus other subjects. For instance, several months ago I was searching for materials on the life cycles of various organisms. My search turned up only a few relevant items. Most of the search results had to do with recycling, and there were so many! Other search results have given me similar results, although I don’t recall offhand what I was looking for those times.

    It seems to me that while caring for our environment is important, the amount of material abcteach offers should not be disproportionate to other subjects.

  2. admin

    Hello Christine,

    Thank you for your comments. We’re glad you like the tips.

    To help you out with your search for life cycle materials, here a few links to some member materials (I see that you are a current member): (booklet butterfly life cycle) (spider life cycle) (butterfly lifecycle) (daisy life cycle) (frog life cycle)

    If you’d like to find more, you can do so with our search tool by searching for “life cycle.” Here are some results from our member site (login required):

    Here are some life cycle materials for free users:

    Please contact if you are still having trouble locating the materials you need. We are glad to help!

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