http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/how-do-i-recycle-common-recyclables At School | By Subject | What You Can Do | Wastes | US EPA

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At School

Students, parents, and teachers can all make a difference in reducing waste at school. By practicing the "3 Rs" of waste reduction-reduce, reuse, and recycle-we can all do our part.

Back to School

  • Before starting a new school year, sort through your old materials. Many of last year's supplies can be reused or recycled.
  • Recycle unwanted papers and reuse your old folders and binders. Paper that had only one side written on it can be reused; you can cut it up and re-staple it to make a notebook.
  • Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Share your used books with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren.
  • Make a list before you shop for school supplies, it will help you remember what you wanted to purchase and limit impulse buying. When you have a plan it's easier to take action.
  • Buy smart! Purchase and use a wide assortment of supplies made from recycled products, such as pencils made from old blue jeans; binders made from old shipping boxes. Many types of recycled paper products contain a percentage of Post-Consumer Waste (PCW). You can also reuse items like refillable pens, rechargeable batteries, and scrap paper for notes.
  • Buy used goods from resale shops. This is an inexpensive way to get assorted merchandise, and retro fashions are always coming back into style.
  • Use school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging; use compact or concentrated products; or buy products that come in bulk sizes.
  • Cover your textbooks with cut-up grocery or shopping bags helps reduce waste and keeps your books in good condition. Be creative - use markers or colored pencils to give your covers unique and fun designs. Paper grocery bags and newspaper are also great for wrapping packages.
  • Maintain newly purchased items. Students frequently lose small items like pens and pencils. Make a conscious effort to put school supplies in a safe place every day. This will not only reduce waste but it will save you a headache if you lose something important!
  • Get ready for school next year by making locker decorations out of old CDs. Decorate them with paint, stickers, rhinestones, or photos; stick magnetic tape to the back; and spruce up your locker! Another great locker decoration: pictures from old magazines that would have been thrown away.

Recycling at School

  • Save packaging, colored paper, egg cartons, and other items for arts and crafts projects. Look for other ways you can reduce the amount of packaging you throw away and recycle!
  • Use nontoxic products, inks and art supplies, such as vegetable-based inks, white tape instead of whiteout, and water-based paints, and batteries with less mercury.
  • Use and maintain durable products, or ones with a lifetime warranty. Sturdy backpacks and notebooks can be reused for many years, which helps reduce the amount of broken items tossed away each year.
  • If you bring your lunch to school, package it in reusable containers instead of disposable ones, and carry them in a reusable plastic or cloth bag, or lunch box. Bring drinks in a thermos or water bottle instead of disposable bottles or cartons.
  • If you buy lunch, take and use only what you need: one napkin, one ketchup packet, one salt packet, one pepper packet, one set of flatware. Remember to recycle your cans and bottles, and separate your waste if your school has separation bins!
  • Borrow or rent your decorations and supplies for school parties, dances, and proms. If you buy these supplies, try adopting a theme that can be used from year-to-year, so that you can reuse your decorations and supplies. Your school's theater or acting class is a great place to start finding props and decorations.
  • Waste less by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Volunteer for, or start, an environmental club or recycling project in your school.
  • Work with your teachers and friends to find ways to encourage everyone in your community to make waste reduction a part of their everyday lives. You can also look for unique ways to make your school more waste-free, such as starting a school composting project or ask for a day in art class where you can use things that would have normally been thrown away.

Taking Care of the Environment

  • Take public transportation to school. But, if you do drive, carpool with a friend (or two). Both help prevent wasted fuel, reduce air pollution, and decrease traffic in your community.
  • Put long-lasting, high-quality tires on your car and bicycle. Be sure to keep your tires properly inflated.
  • Pass it on! Share the "buy smart" message with your family, friends and schoolmates.
  • Don't be shy; tell the managers at your favorite stores that you and your friends are interested in seeing more green items on the shelves. Tell your teachers you want to have a time dedicated to learning more about what you and your fellow classmates can do for the environment.

Photo of two young girls writing with their teacher


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