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Top 10 Tips to Minimize Waste

1. Work with your local recycling authority:

  • Arrange for recycling bins and collection at your school.
  • Acquire information about items and materials that can be recycled in standard collections, special local collections and drop-off recycling sites in your area. (Visit www.earth911.com for details.)
  • Obtain posters, leaflets and possible speakers or activities.

2. Evaluate and minimize paper usage and waste.

  • Place trays for reusable paper in each classroom, office, copier room and anywhere else paper is used.
  • Make double-sided printing and photocopying routine. (Set printers to do this automatically.)
  • Encourage staff to save documents electronically rather than printing them.
  • Offer parents the option to receive newsletters by email, and post information on your school's website.

3. Communicate waste and recycling initiatives regularly to staff, students and parents.

  • Ensure that recycling bins are obvious and appealing.
  • Use colorful stickers and posters to clarify what does and does not go in the recycling bins.
  • Announce recycling initiatives in school assemblies, staff meetings, newsletters and on the website.
  • Hold class competitions or recycling days to keep waste reduction prominent and fun.
  • Use bulletin boards and displays around the school to show progress.

4. Set up a composting system for organic waste.

  • Find out if reduced-cost or free composting bins are available through your recycling authority or local environmental groups.
  • Consider vermicomposting for cafeteria waste.
  • Incorporate composting activities into science lessons or after-school clubs.

5. Investigate whether you can make money by recycling steel and aluminum cans.

6. Recycle used electronics and e-waste.

  • Many companies will collect old printer cartridges and mobile phones and give you money in return or donate funds to charity.
  • Donate unneeded computers and other electronic equipment to re-use organizations.

7. Obtain supplies made from recycled or reused materials.

  • Look for printer paper, notebooks, pencils, binders and other products with a high percentage of recycled, post-consumer waste content.
  • Look for backpacks, totes, and other products made from recycled plastic bottles.
  • Contact local businesses and organizations to "rescue" supplies that might otherwise go to the landfill.

8. Avoid disposable food service items whenever possible.

  • Provide mugs and glasses in the staff room instead of disposable cups.
  • Encourage students to bring lunchboxes and reusable drink bottles instead of throw-away bags and containers.
  • Strive for "zero-waste" special events by using washable dishes or compostable dishware.

9. Repurpose clothing, furniture, and other durable items.

  • Set up a "swap shop" to help parents exchange second-hand clothing and uniforms.
  • Reupholster or refinish furniture to prolong its life, and donate unneeded furnishings to local charities.
  • Hold a garage sale to raise funds for your Eco-Schools program.

10. Create a culture of re-use.

  • Prolong the lives of envelopes by sticking new labels over previous addresses.
  • Designate a supply closet where teachers can swap supplies and other items instead of purchasing new ones.
  • Include "want lists" in school newsletters to ask parents and other community members to donate useful items they no longer need

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