Educating children about sustainability by making it part of their upbringing
Sustainability was once a buzzword, but
it has now become a prominent lifestyle choice for many individuals and is
being embraced by more and more businesses. However, when it comes to being
more sustainable, it’s not just the short-term solutions that make the most
significant impact. To really make our future planet one we can all enjoy we
need to change the mindset of the people most likely to be impacted by our
choices. This is why sustainable practices have to begin in the classroom.
Take a look at why schools are
introducing sustainability activities in lessons, as well as some of the simple
initiatives across the board that can promote better habits in pupils of all
Incorporating sustainability into the current primary and
In recent years, sustainability has been
included in primary and secondary curriculum. But it’s not just the theory of a
sustainable lifestyle that will provide an insight into this mindful practice.
A key component in educating school children of all ages includes showcasing
how sustainability can be implemented in real-life scenarios.
Some lessons lend themselves to
displaying sustainable teachings such as Geography and Science. However, other
subjects made require a little more creativity to incorporate the links. To
make this easier, you can check out this helpful
resource created by Keep Britain Tidy to see how different activities can be
integrated throughout the whole curriculum.
Making sustainability fun in the classroom
There are a lot of great sustainability ideas for schools that can help teach kids about sustainable practices, while still keeping things fun. Some ideas include:
Organise beach or park clean ups that can show children the impact waste can have. Some items can be brought back to the classroom for art projects that will help teach further lessons about sustainability and recycling.
Ask children to present the things they do to be more sustainable as a family at home. This could be a project or a presentation.
Teach what is sustainability for kids by helping to show them how to dispose of waste properly, and even show what happens to products after they’ve been taken to the recycling centre.
Organise toy swaps so that children can exchange unwanted toys for something else – helping to show the important of reusing and recycling.
Sustainability can be an inspiring and creative topic for children, so think of activities that will teach sustainability for kids and help raise them with a more environmentally friendly mindset.
Teachers are often considered one of the
most influential people in a child’s life alongside parents. By definition, a
role model is someone who inspires and
encourages us to strive to greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the
best in ourselves1.
This influence is vital for delivering a
positive and motivational overview of sustainability in the classroom and the
wider community. While lessons are crucial, how the teacher uses these methods
in everyday life is vital for showing children how they can benefit from them.
You can also give them other role models in the form
of celebrities. This involves educating your students on the actions they are
taking to increase their sustainability and how they are encouraging others to
do the same. Great examples include Emma Watson, who has actively promoted sustainable
fashion through her partnership with Fair Trade brand, People Tree, and of
course, Leonardo DiCaprio. In 1998, he established the Leonardo DiCaprio
Foundation to help protect the world’s wild places, and he famously used his
2016 Oscars acceptance speech to raise awareness about climate change.
Top ways educational establishments can encourage sustainable
As any teacher knows, both good and bad
habits can be picked up by students in the school environment. Throughout
childhood, kids of all ages find it easier to implement habits if they follow a
consistent routine. By making sustainability a prominent feature throughout
lessons and in communal spaces, it becomes second nature to make balanced decisions.
To promote a sustainable lifestyle and
encourage mindful practices, schools can implement a host of things to spark
conversation and awareness. The real educational benefit is from talking about
why they are important and what it will mean to the pupils. Building class room displays around sustainability
can really cement these lessons.
Take a look at some of the top ideas to
boost sustainability in education:
This isn’t a new motion for the majority
of schools. However, it’s not just paper and plastics that should be recycled.
There now are a wide range of initiatives at hand for recycling larger
consumables and equipment, such as printer cartridges and computers. Top
technology brands such as Dell have a recycling scheme for a range of tech
items. You can also find the best places to recycle everything from Sticky Tape
to School Uniforms on the RecycleNow website.
Reduce food waste
Food can now be collected as part of
many recycling schemes across the country. However, the amount of wastage is
still an issue. An assessment of the type of foods children typically eat and
favour is essential to stop unpopular options going in the bin.
It takes a lot of energy to power
schools. With the number of computers, lights and other equipment on for
several hours of the day, it can also be challenging to control the amount we
use (which can have a detrimental effect on the environment). Simple fixes
Switching off lights in rooms that are
not in use
Avoid leaving equipment on standby or
computers in sleep mode
Installing automatic lights in communal
Celebrate your sustainability practices to give kids and parents pride in their school
Schools celebrate the achievements of its pupils, but it’s also important to celebrate the achievements of the school itself. Teaching sustainability for kids can help them learn more about what sustainability is, but you can also improve on this by showing them the impact that the school is having on the environment. Celebrate your waste reduction targets and reduced energy consumption, in addition to other measures you have undertaken for the environment.
An annual meeting or even once a term to discuss sustainability can be a great way to get both parents and kids involved, helping to bring them together and make sustainability a shared responsibility for everyone involved in the school.
Monitor your waste strategy
Keeping tabs on how much waste your
school produces and what percentage is recycled is essential for keeping costs
down. Figures show that the average
secondary school produces 22kg of waste per pupil per academic year. The number
for primary school is a staggering 45kg per pupil2.
To minimise the impact on the
environment, it’s advisable to conduct a waste audit. This audit identifies how
much waste and the type you produce. Plus, it helps you to determine the size
of bins required around the school, alongside where you need to place them to
If you’re looking to implement further
sustainable systems in your school or business, phs Wastekit can arrange
Wastesaving Audit to help identify effective waste
solutions for the future.