The role of teachers entails a certain responsibility towards the children. And with this comes the duty of setting an example—especially when it comes to promoting good habits and practices. Maintaining sustainable habits is one such way of doing so, although it may be hard to really drive home the point with just one teacher. There must be an institutional commitment to reducing carbon emissions in order to truly help the students carry out these practices even outside the four walls of the school. After all, given the current environmental issues on the rise, sustainability isn’t simply a trend anymore; it’s a must. So how exactly can teachers promote sustainability in their classes? There are a few ways to do so.
1. Minimize the use of papers.
For one, teachers can greatly encourage going paperless and doing online coding classes in order to reduce the consumption of paper. It’s quite known that transitioning into a paperless classroom actually has a number of benefits. By using less paper, fewer trees have to be cut. This way, trees can absorb any carbon dioxide emissions and provide for a more balanced ecosystem. It also prevents any harmful gases from being released and eventually causing breakage to the ozone layer. Of course, as we’ve found out through the online classes conducted during the pandemic, learning how to navigate technology can be tough. Nevertheless, it can all still be learned through little steps.
2. Buy technology sustainably.
But going paperless doesn’t exactly mean that using more technology is automatically more sustainable. In manufacturing various technological devices, there are still a lot of carbon emissions that get released into the air. So even though you may believe that you’re being greener by purchasing more laptops for paperless learning, you might still be contributing to your own carbon footprint. With the help of the school authorities, you can pave the way for buying second-hand technology. This will lessen the resources and gas emissions exerted to create an entirely new computer. There’s also the bonus of saving money since second-hand devices generally cost less.
3. Encourage environmental events.
Schools generally have student-led organizations and events—so why not encourage activities that are geared towards sustainability? If there are clubs that have the advocacy of making the planet healthier, teachers can help facilitate any events that might come about such as beach clean-ups or fundraisers. Encouraging students who aren’t club members to join would also be a huge help. Some teachers may even opt to give incentives to non-members who join the different events. And if the school doesn’t already have an environmental organization of sorts, it might be best to start looking for students who would like to share this advocacy.
4. Turn electricals off when not in use.
Another effective way to develop a more sustainability-forward mindset is to remind students to turn off any electricals if they are not using them. The same goes for any laptop or computer. Doing so not only saves the school’s electrical bill, but it also helps save energy. It’s also important to make sure that the school itself is built in such a way that allows for it to not become too dependent on electrical. One way to do this is to open the curtains or blinds so as to let in more natural light. It would also be good to ask any of the higher-ups in the institution if they are open to investing in bigger windows or better insulation. But while there are no budgets or permissions yet when it comes to these particular implementations, it is best to simply conserve electricity as much as one can.
5. Have recycling bins all over the school.
Designate recycling bins in common areas of the school—the gym, the cafeteria, or any other place where a lot of students gather. There can be a variety of bins for specific waste products, as in one for paper and perhaps another for plastic. It would be better to spread awareness about the bins—as well as the general importance of recycling—throughout the student body, so that the students may actively participate in using the bins. Posters and even social media posts are a good way to spread the word about recycling bins. And of course, there’s always the option to make it more competitive. You can make it a school-wide competition with designated bins per class to see who manages to generate the most recycled waste.
All in all: Teachers are role models.
Teachers are definitely an underrated bunch. They have the duty of educating young people on how they’re supposed to act especially when it comes to pressing issues. And since the environment is no exception, it is important that teachers set an example when it comes to promoting sustainability. Having an encouraging and optimistic mindset is the key to getting students to act accordingly. Sustainability is not something that can be ignored, more so since young people are very much the bulk of those who would be affected in the future. With that, teachers must be sure to do their part.