Go Green! Free Recycling and Environmental Education Tips for Teachers
 
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Environmentally Friendly Education Materials
Go Green Guide
Tips and Resources for Protecting the Environment at Home and in the Classroom
 
 
Go Green Guide - Environmentally-friendly tips and links for teachers.BATTERIES: Buy better batteries.

Non-rechargeable
: It's very tempting, in a shopping rush or on a budget, to buy "cheap" batteries.  We've all seen them at the discount store, with four or more "AA" in a package for $1 or so.  In this case, you get less than what you pay for.  These batteries are often "heavy duty" or "super heavy duty" and will be dead before you know it.  If you don't yet use rechargeable batteries, at least go for the higher-end long-lasting batteries.  They may be more expensive initially, but will last longer and prove less expensive over time.

Rechargeable
: These are your best bet.  When a battery runs low, you simply place it in your charger for a boost.  Rechargeable batteries seem to last forever, making them the "cheapest" bet in the long run.  They also contain enough to juice to properly run high-energy electronics such as digital cameras.

Warning
: Rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals and must be recycled.  Visit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation for information on where you can drop in or mail your dead batteries.
 
CARDBOARD: Cardboard can be recycled, but remember to break down the boxes and remove any staples.  Sides of a box free of ink can be used for gardening.  Separate plant root systems with buried cardboard, knowing that it will degrade and disappear within a couple of years.
 
CATALOGS: You can control the number of catalogs that reach your home by visiting Catalog Choice.
 
 
CELL PHONES: Your old cellular phone (and its charger if you still have it) can be recycled.  Many are revamped and resold, and others are given as emergency phones to victims of domestic violence.  Try visiting The Recycling Factory or Green Phone or Verizon Hopeline.
 
CLEANING PRODUCTS: Many manufacturers of cleaning products now offer greener cleaning solutions.  Check out store aisles!  You can also try your hand at creating your own cleaning products.  Diluted vinegar is all you need to battle grime (a dash of lemon will take care of the aroma) on most non-porous surfaces.  Try doing a Google search on homemade cleaning products.  Many people have filled the internet with postings of their grandmother's non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning solutions for nearly every type of mess!

CUPS: We often offer food and snacks in the classroom.  If you must use plastic cups, make sure that they are recycled.  Mark students' names on the cups and leave time at the end of class for students to rinse out their cups in the bathroom or at a drinking fountain.  If you have storage facilities in the classroom and offer regular snack days, have each student bring in an old cup from home (labeled with the the student's name).
 
CRAYONS: The majority of crayons are made with petroleum, which means that you don't want to toss them into a landfill (or waste the stubs).
Recycling them yourself: You can place the stubs into a paper cup and "nuke" them (15 seconds at a time, stirring intermittently).  The melted wax can be left to harden into the round shape of the cup, or placed into a mold (such as a greased baking form).  If you mix several colors in initial cup, you will end up with rainbow-colored crayons.  This can be a fun experiment with younger children.
Donating them
: If you'd rather donate your old crayons, go to
Crazy Crayons.
 
ELECTRONICS: No matter how outdated or broken that old VCR or TV may be, avoid throwing it into the trash.  The electronic components can be very harmful to the environment.  Contact your local municipal authority.  Many cities offer monthly or annual drop-offs, where residents can pull those old electronics out of the garage and safely dispose of them.
 
FOOD SCRAPS: Composting is the way to go.  Try saving an old coffee can and filling it with your food and cooking scraps (apple peelings and cores, etc.).  Avoid greasy items or cooking oils.  When your can is full, bury its contents in the yard.  If you don't have a yard, call a local nursery or botanical garden (remember: you're giving away high-quality all-natural fertilizer).
 
GLASSES: Students, whose eyes and heads are still growing, seem to go through a pair of glasses each year.  Old glasses (spectacles) can be recycled.  Even if the frames are broken, the glass can be re-grinded and reused.  Contact Lions Clubs for more information.
 
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS: Never throw these in with the regular trash!  Contact your local municipal authority and ask what to do with them.
 
INK/PRINTER CARTRIDGES: Your old printer cartridges can be recycled.  The first option is to have them refilled.  In the last few years, nearly every city has seen stores pop up offering ink refilling services.  The cost of a refill is typically 50% of what a new cartridge would cost, and the refill usually contains more ink than the new cartridge did.  If you have too many cartridges to bother with, check with local schools and charitable organizations.  Many host cartridge recycling programs (students collect old cartridges, refill them, and then sell them).  You can also visit The Recycling Factory.
 
LIGHT BULBS: We switched to compact fluorescent light bulbs last year and haven't changed a bulb since.  The electric bill has shown a positive change, as well!  Warning: These bulbs have to be recycled.  Contact the manufacturer or go to Earth 911.
 
PACKING PEANUTS: Those pesky packing peanuts never seem to go away! Since we must deal with them, let's recycle them.
Reusing them
: Place the cardboard box with the packing peanuts in storage.  If you have too many boxes, try collecting your peanuts in a single large bag or box.  At the holidays or whenever you find yourself mailing numerous packages, reuse the peanuts.
Giving them away
: If you have more packing peanuts than you can ever use, give them away.  Try contacting churches or companies that do a lot of package-mailings.  Put up a flyer at your local post office offering "Free Packing Peanuts - Just Pick Them Up."  You'd be surprised at  how many small business owners (such as eBay merchants) will be happy to pick up free packing peanuts.  Otherwise, you can contact Loose Fill Packaging or call 1.800.828.2214.
 
PAPER: Almost all paper can be recycled, not just newspapers, so long as the paper doesn't contain any sort of metal (glitter, staples).  This means everything from junk mail (the plastic envelope windows are okay) to box board (like a Hot Pockets box) to notebook paper to gift wrap.  When we placed a paper bin in our kitchen (for pizza boxes, Sweet 'n' Low wrappers, etc.), we saw it filling up faster than the regular garbage can!  Where we used to have three or four large garbage bags out in front of the house each week, we now have just one (next to several bins of recyclables).
 
PLASTIC TUBS: Can you remember when cheap plastic storage tubs were not available in stores, and your mother washed out and reused that margarine tub?  Now is the time to rekindle that tradition!
 
TENNIS BALLS: A small batch of old, no-bounce tennis balls can be donated to a senior center or nursing home (the old balls work nicely as caps for walkers).  Rebounces will cover the shipping costs for lots of 250 or more (they re-pressurize the balls for resale).
 
WATER: Stop buying individual water bottles!  Get a good, recyclable purifier for your tap and buy one or two refillable sports bottles for your water.
 
GENERAL TIPS: Get everyone on board with your earth-friendly program.  If you have kids or a class of students, consider driving to a landfill one afternoon.  It's hardly a kid's dream outing, but the five minutes your kids spend looking at a pile of garbage--a pile that will grow and grow if we don't recycle--will help get them to take recycling seriously.  Motivation: Offer a reward if your household can limit itself to one large garbage bag each week.  For example, round up the household trash on garbage night and, if it all fits into a single bag, the family can order pizza for dinner.