New School Thinking

As we make strides to green our home and our lifestyle, we wanted to share our enthusiasm with the preschool where we send our two sons.

After noticing that the school did not have any recycling bins and the amount of paper scraps in the trash at the end of each session, I started thinking about how to reduce the waste and teach the kids about recycling.

Thankfully the head mistress and teachers have welcomed my suggestions about adding recycling bins in the classes. By allowing me to start with my sons’ classes and the office, it will quickly demonstrate how easy it is while providing an opportunity for the kids to learn about conservation. What better lesson that understanding how our actions impact the environment?

Here are a couple simple ways you can impact your child’s classroom with some new school thinking:

  • Add recycling bins in the classroom like we have. If expense is an issue, the kids can even make a bin to get more involved. Since Chicago doesn’t have a city wide recycling program yet, I have agreed to pick up the recycling each week and shuttle it to the Nature Museum drop-off where we take our own recycling.
  • Provide a bin for the recycling in the staff lounge and office areas. You know how it is: once you add  a bin and you begin to see how much waste is produced you work harder at conserving. It’s contagious!
  • Encourage the students to come up with creative ways to reuse supplies and give out awards for the classroom that reduced the most waste.
  • If your school has the space, add a compost bin for the classroom and host a workshop. Once you start this in one classroom you will be booked until the end of the year!
  • If your school has space, add a rain barrel. For the older kids, this is a great way to bring science to real life. The kids can track the amount of rainfall, study evaporation, and then use the water for a special project or in the school’s landscaped areas.
  • Talk with other parents at your next school function, share ideas and see who is interested in working together on this mission. Once you have a couple people, the momentum will really build.
  • Don’t forget the custodial staff! Make sure you talk with them to discuss how the the new recycling program impacts their duties and ask for their input. Since they handle the majority of waste from the building, they will have special insight into ways to conserve.
  • Become a leader and keep track of your school’s improvements. Host a tour of the changes for Earth Day to get the whole school involved and continue the good work you started!

For me being green really means making a positive impact wherever you go and whatever you do. For our kids, bringing eco-friendly practices to their preschool means that we can feel proud that we shared something that is important to us with them. By starting any green program, it provides the entire school with an opportunity to grow in new ways while giving back to the local community and global environment.

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. Jen shares her journey going green and raising a family as The Eco Chic Organizer.

5 Responses to New School Thinking
  1. Lisa
    January 6, 2009 | 11:27 am

    My husband teaches 4th & 5th grade math at a very small school. He brings home some of his recycling from his room but there is not recycling in the town where the school is so not real sure how to start a recycling program there. My husband already has so much on his plate can’t really add picking up recycling every week from the school.

    He did take a “Cardboard Tree” ( and tell the kids about how it can be recycled and such and they colored it and then one of them got to take it home at the start of Christmas break. He also gave them organic candy for Christmas and recycled pencils. He even gave the teachers organic candy and recycled cards for Christmas.

    He just got a recycled basketball for when they play math games and told the kids about how it’s recycled and such.

    So he is doing a lot and I’m so proud of him because this is my issue not his.

  2. Alline
    January 6, 2009 | 2:35 pm

    Wow! Congratulations on your commitment to pick up and transport the recyling – what an amazing example you are setting, for your kids, the other kids, and all of the parents! Great job!

  3. Natural Pod
    January 7, 2009 | 4:42 pm

    It takes a new way of thinking, deciding to approach new ideas and find solutions. Kids are happy to help the environment and participate in making a difference. Natural and more handcrafted safer toys and materials should be considered more often as well.

  4. Jessica/Green Mamma
    January 9, 2009 | 5:27 pm

    Thank you for this encouraging article! It is nice to hear that other green families are well received at their children’s schools and the school is willing to make changes that will benefit the environment and the children too no doubt. I will keep this post in mind when the time comes to consider preschools for our children.

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    January 11, 2009 | 3:18 am

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