Some schools have strict rules about waste, others, well…. don’t. World Recycling Day is a wonderful opportunity to share with your students a path to becoming expert consumers.
It’s important to emphasize early in the post and in our classrooms in general: Recycling is not the answer to the climate crisis. It is absolutely and 100% the bare minimum that every person should be doing, and every government should be working on to improve the terrible fact that only 9% of plastics are recycled.
Recycling, however, is a fantastic tool to raise awareness in your students in the dangers of plastics (especially single-use-plastics) and take steps to becoming as close to plastic-zero as possible.
Of course, time in class is always limited so we’ve got a few ideas below to help you move forward.
At the end of the day spend 5 minutes checking the different waste in the recycling bins. Keep track of the different materials you use and see if you can reduce waste as a group.
A litter pick doesn’t have to be a huge community organized clean up. You can do it on the way to/from school, you can find a place close to home and spend 5 minutes getting it as clean as you can.
If you’re short on time but looking for a high impact activity. A litter pick is the answer. Taking 10 minutes to clean the world around you and your students will help build a bond between you and nature. It also gives students the chance to see the immediate impact of their actions.
Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
People often fall into a trap of “wishcycling” which is when we take all of our plastics and throw them into the recycling. The biggest problem here is not all plastics can be recycled.
Here is a quick guide you can go over with your students*.
Plastics are divided into 7 different types. These numbers often appear on plastic containers to ensure people know when to recycle and when to send the plastic to landfill.
* Please note that different towns, cities and countries have different recycling facilities so it is always best to check with local authorities
What do your students love? Are they into Pokemon? Do the love fashion? Is there a stuffed toy they love but just don’t have space for, and would rather it go to another home than straight to landfill?
A swap shop is a wonderful way to get students excited about the world of preloved items. Reframing the way students view secondhand materials and encouraging them to actively seek them out will reduce the world’s need to recycle as people will be interchanging things rather than simply sending them to land fill and buying a new one.
An Artist at Work
Obviously stopping the production and not buying SUPs in the first place is the first answer to the plastic problem and the problem of waste in general. The next best thing is to make sure we are as creative as possible and reuse as much.
Speakout B1 3rd Edition has a great lesson about art and creativity.
This is a wonderful place to invite your students to get creative in the classroom and make some art out of upcycled materials.
Arts and Crafts are a wonderful way of transmitting a message and learning “Real English” it’s important to ensure all of our adult learners still have the opportunity to express themselves creatively. Upcycling is for everyone, not just kids.
Speak Out for Sustainability
The beauty of Speak Out for Sustainability is you can come at it from whichever angle you like. Two full units each with 10 individual lessons based on plastics, litter and how we can work towards the “3 R’s of Sustainability” (of course there are many more)The lessons can be used as stand-alone classes or as a full unit. There are interviews with experts and activists, providing students with different viewpoints in terms of the plastic problem and the climate crisis. It also includes official BBC studios materials.
Speak Out for Sustainability also won a judges’ commendation at the ELTon awards for Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action.
Be Plastic Clever
Kids Against Plastic provide materials and guidance for primary and secondary schools to help them become plastic clever schools. This is a wonderful chance to empower students into bringing positive social change in their environment and beyond!
If you’re still stuck for something to inspire your students on Global Recycling Day, you can always check out www.renewableenglish.com of lots of free planet-friendly classes and materials.
Let’s make a pledge this World Recycling Day to reduce our waste and become more environmentally conscious. Whether it’s by committing to a daily litter pick, reducing single-use plastics, or participating in a local recycling program, every step we take brings us closer to a greener mindset and a more sustainable future. So, let’s take action today and encourage others to join us in making a positive impact on the planet. Remember, together we can make a difference!