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Going Green and Saving Green ($) in the Classroom

written by: JenniferB • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/4/2012

Going green can save you precious pennies (and more!) out of your tightening classroom budgets. I’ve searched the Web – blogs, reviews, lists, etc – for the easiest, most resourceful, time-efficient ways to go green in your classroom while saving the green in your pocket.

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    Eco-Friendly, Money-Saving Strategies

    As teachers, we’ve got a lot on our mind: lesson plans, department meetings, committee work, learning the names and faces of our new students and more. Amid the myriad of educational activity it probably seems like there’s no way to add anything else to the mix – even going green. Even those of us with the best of eco-intentions find it difficult to be green all of the time.

    However, going green as many benefits. For one, it is our responsibility as teachers to demonstrate our dedication to future of our planet. Also important, going green can save you precious pennies (and more!) out of your tightening classroom budgets. Below you'll find the best tips I could find for the easiest, most resourceful, time-efficient ways to go green in your classroom while saving the green in your pocket.

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    Reused & Recycled School Supplies

    1. Cereal boxes: Cereal boxes of all sizes make great organizational cubbies for you or your students work.

    2. Old VHS cases: These hard plastic containers are great for pencil boxes or art boxes/supplies.

    3. Go Digital: In place of sending home paper notices to parents, consider using email. At the beginning of the year in your letter home you can include a return form on which parents can opt for future email correspondence and provide their email address. While it won’t work for every parent, most will welcome this eco-friendly option!

    4. Scrap Bin: Keep a bin for colored scrap paper or other objects (buttons, stickers, etc) that can be used for art class. If you don’t teach art in your classroom you could collect it for the art teachers.

    5. Hand-me-downs: If another teacher in your grade or discipline is retiring or switching to a different position, consider asking them if they’d be willing to give you any classroom supplies and books that they no longer need.

    6. Buy used: Books, games and other supplies can be purchased online or at a local flea market or thrift store for a fraction of the price. For books try Amazon and for larger items like mini-fridges or file cabinets check out Craigslist.

    7. Online games and activities: Much of our budget can get eaten up by pricey software, games and activities for our classrooms. With just a bit of time, you can find a plethora of interactive and educational games and activities online. Here are a few:

    * BBC Schools Games

    * Fact Monster

    * Funbrain

    * Infoplease

    * PBS Kids Go!

    * Professor Garfield

    This list is just the beginning, but you can get further ideas from your students! Have a mini lesson on recycling and then ask students for their ideas on reusing materials in the classroom. Using their strategies will not only contribute to your goal of a greener classroom, it will encourage their involvement and ownership in what could become a permanent project for your class.

    Do you have any money-saving strategies you use in the classroom?