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Greener environments and homes are in the spotlight these days, but what about the other places where many of us spend huge chunks of our time-- ie: schools and classrooms? Some simple changes of habit can save our energy and these small steps can be multiplied by persuading our families, friends, colleagues and students to adopt environmentally friendly and more than often cost-effective policies.

1. Educate students!
This is a school's number one role in going green: change the mindset and behaviour of our next generation

  • Teach students about environmental eductaion ie: global warming, climate change, renewable resources, recycling of solid wastes and water
  • Encourge students to take home any lunch rubbish or food scraps
  • Keep the paper recycling basket separate from waste bins
  • Role model reduce, reuse and recycling everyday
  • Introduce environmentally-friendly games into the classroom

2. Be bright about light

FACT: Artificial lighting accounts for approximately 44 percent of the electricity use in office buildings.
  • Turn off the lights when you're leaving any room for 15 minutes or more and utilise natural light when you can
  • Encourage the purchase of energy star-rated lightbulbs and fixtures that use at least two-thirds less energy than regular lighting
  • Install timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when not needed

2. Maximise computer efficiency
FACT: Computers in the business sector unnecessarily waste $1 billion worth of electricity a year.
  • Turn off your classroom computer—and the power strip it's plugged into—when you leave for the day. Otherwise, you're still burning energy
  • Set your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks as this will also cut energy use by 70 percent. Know too that screen savers do not save energy
  • Ensure that outdated equipment is properly recycled. Old computers that still work and are less than five years old can be donated to organisations that will refurbish them and find them new homes

3. Print smarter
FACT: The average office worker goes through about 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year.
  • Print on both sides or use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts. Avoid color printing and print in draft mode whenever possible
  • Minimise the use of paper in handouts to parents. In many cases parent communications can occur through email or online newsletters.

4. Go paperless when possible
  • Think before you print. Could this information be read or stored online instead?
  • When you receive unwanted catalogs, newsletters, magazines or junk mail, request to be removed from the mailing list before you recycle the item
  • Post classwork, meeting notes, memos to colleagues and similar materials online rather than distribute print copies. The information is easier to update that way too

5. Ramp up your recycling
  • Reduce, reuse or recycle practically everything your school collects. Fax paper, envelopes, and junk mail can be recycled or creatively used for art.
  • Place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and can not be recycled

6. Grow a garden and integrate environmental education into the curriculum

  • Create a space for a school garden that will give students a wonderful outdoor botany laboratory
  • Gardens also encourage education in sustainable environments, local growing seasons, and the nutritional value of locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs

7. Watch what (and how) you eat
  • Bring your own mug and dishware for those meals at school and make it a habit to take home your own rubbish or food scraps
  • Provide filtered drinking water reciprocals to reduce bottled-water waste
  • Use caterers for student lunches/canteens that use local and organically produced foods

8. Rethink travel
  • Parking lots create high levels of atmospheric emissions, so set up the school bus and car pickup/drop off to minimise idling time
  • Encourage students to ride their bikes or walk
  • Invest in videoconferencing and other technological solutions that can reduce the amount of employee travel

9. Reconsider how you commute
  • Carpool, bike, or take transit to work, and/or telecommute when possible
  • If you need to drive occasionally consider joining a car-sharing service

10. Create a healthy office environment
  • Purchase nontoxic cleaning products
  • Brighten up your classroom with plants that absorb indoor pollution
  • Buy furniture, carpeting, and paint that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and won't off-gas toxic chemicals
  • Use biodegradable cups and utensils for class parties and shared lunch/snack times