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 ages.

Incorporating sustainability into the current primary and secondary curriculum

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. 

Role models

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 practices

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.

Energy-saving ideas

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 include:

·         -  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 areas 

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 encourage recycling.

If you’re looking to implement further sustainable systems in your school or business, phs Wastekit can arrange a free Wastesaving Audit to help identify effective waste solutions for the future.




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