Reducing Waste in Schools

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Reducing Waste in Schools

Kids and Waste

When we think of our kids, we might think they don’t create much waste. I mean, they’re so little, right? Unfortunately, that’s not accurate. Between school lunches, homework, craft supplies, science projects – all that material adds up! Here’s how you can start reducing waste in schools.


Every year, each elementary school student in Ontario generates their own body weight in waste from conventionally packed school lunches alone. If each student has a zero-waste lunch, they would send 89% less waste to landfills.

Consider the following when packing your kid’s lunch:

  • Don’t brown bag it. Invest in a lunchbox, reusable plastic containers, cloth napkins, cutlery and a thermos.
  • Avoid buying individually packaged foods. Only take the amount of food you’ll eat.
  • See if your school has a compost program. If they do, encourage your children to use it when possible.
  • Recycle pop cans, glass bottles and paper bags if you do use them. Just make sure all your materials are clean before putting them in a blue box.
  • Ditch the disposable water bottle. Use stainless steel insulated water bottles.
  • Have your kids participate in packing their lunch and making zero waste choices.

Other Ways To Reduce Waste

If you can, reuse the school supplies you can from last year. Things like pencils, pens and binders can be reused. Try to purchase supplies with minimal packaging. And use whatever you can for art supplies – coloured paper, egg cartons, etc. If your child still fits in clothing from last year, keep them in the cycle. If not, donate those clothes to a thrift store and keep them out of the landfill.

Are You a Teacher?

There are ways you can help too! Here are some ways to incorporate recycling into your learning program and help with reducing waste in schools:

  1. Hold a Recycling Contest: divide up your class to form two to four different teams, challenge another classroom in the school, or even have a teachers-versus-students contest.
  2. Turn Recycling Into a Writing Assignment: Mix up your daily journal or writing activity by giving students some recycling-themed writing prompts. Ask them how they could help with reducing waste in schools.
  3. Bring in a guest to talk about recycling. At Quinte Waste Solutions we believe reaching kids, while they’re still kids is the perfect time to teach them about recycling. We can come to your school and/or just your classroom to talk to the students about proper recycling and waste reduction. It’s all free of charge! Contact us here!
  4. Make Recycling a Game: If your students can see their progress with recycling, they’re more likely to do it outside of the classroom, too. So what can you do to show how much paper they’ve saved or the number of bottles and cans that they’ve collected? Use a sticker chart, take photos, or just recognize students when you catch them recycling.
  5. Challenge students to repurpose items in their art projects. Fill an area of your classroom with objects—plastic containers, old beads, and even outdoor objects, like sticks. Then have your students use them to create art. Encourage students to be creative and bring in their own items as well.

Waste Reduction Week

Waste Reduction Week (WRW) in Canada is a year-round program, focused solely on the principles of a circular economy, resource efficiency, and waste reduction. The program’s primary purpose is to celebrate our environmental efforts and achievements while encouraging new innovative ideas and solutions. The celebratory nature of the campaign is how it motivates learning and behaviour change.

Waste Reduction Week in Canada further provides information and ideas to reduce waste in all facets of daily living, creating the solutions to the many environmental challenges we face including climate change, water pollution and preservation of natural resources. This year, Waste Reduction Week is from October 21-27. As such, they have created some excellent resources for your school! The School Resource Kit provides you with information and tips on the 3Rs – reducing, reusing and recycling; as well as educational and promotional materials and activities to use as a guide for your WRW initiatives.

They also provide additional resources for teachers and students. As an example, their Food Matters Action Kit is loaded with informative resources and hands-on, creative activities to inspire youth of all ages to prevent food waste at home, at school and in their communities.

Now is the time to instil the importance of reduce, reuse and recycle! If you are looking for more ways you can reduce waste, reuse your leftovers and recycling your materials, follow us on social media @quinterecyles!

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