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Best of Works4Me: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Teaching Tips, Ideas and Strategies to Help You Reduce, Recycle & Reuse

Found In: advice & support, works4me, reduce, reuse, recycle

Works4Me is a free biweekly e-newsletter, showcasing practical classroom tips written by the readers themselves. For over 10 years we have been gathering great ideas from the real experts, educators like you.

Here we present you with our best reduce, reuse and recycle tips. Before you throw it away, read how your fellow educators across the country are keeping it green, saving money and setting great green examples for students! NEA's Work4Me recycling tips show you great ways to make amazing use of things you may have tossed in the trash.

  • Makeshift Poster Storage
    Don't throw away those cardboard tubes from paper towels or toilet tissue rolls! Ms. Hart says they are ideal for poster storage - especially during Summer pack-up.
  • Leftover Laminating Film
    As an art teacher for 29 years,, Ms. Carroll can find a use for anything that's left over - and that include laminating film. See what she does on her ironing board at home that gives new life to something you might be throwing in the trash.
  • Going Green Review
    Ms. Buckbee has a nifty review activity that not only helps her assess student learning but also makes great use of laminating scraps that might otherwise end up in the trash.
  • Found Treasures
    After watching classroom teachers discard unwanted, but still usable and well-conditioned, classroom furniture, this custodian came up with a recycling fantastic idea that will work in any school. Find out how you can do it too.
  • “Let’s Save the Earth” Presentation
    Using photography and PowerPoint, Ms. Postman developed an activity that shows her students how small, individual acts can make a big difference in protecting the environment.
  • Disappearing Pencils
    Tired of scrambling to find pencils for unprepared students? Or worse, wondering what happened to all your spare pencils you once had? Ms. Reid has a solution, and it won’t cost you a dime.
  • Writing Utensil Collection
    When studets clean out their lockers at the end of the year, this educator collects their unwanted pens and pencils. In the Fall, she has a supply to lend students that didn't cost her a dime, and saves class time!
  • One Person’s Trash Is Another Student’s Treasure
    Almost every educator is painfully familiar with out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies. Here's a great tip to help you stock your class without breaking your bank.
  • The Flip Chart Trick
    This educator takes an old three-ring notebook and duct tape to create a useful and versatile flip chart for her students. Not only does the flip chart have many uses, it's a great way to model recycling and reuse to students.
  • Tennis Ball Containers
    Here's a money-saver and great way to model recycling to students. Ms. Hajek uses tennis ball cans to store small games pieces. When you peel off the label, you have a see-through tube with a lid most grades can handle.
  • Take-Home Boxes
    In the beginning of the year, Ms. Darr's students bring in cereal boxes, decorate them, and attach them to their desks. For the rest of the year, this is where important take-home papers are stored, so they don't get "swallowed up" in desks.
  • Conserving Paper
    We live in a digital age, but we still need paper. We just don’t need as much of it. Stephanie knows of 4 ways to reduce, reuse and recycle paper products at her school.
  • Student Bulletin Boards
    Ms. Johnson recycles brightly-colored tee shirts into bulletin board backgrounds to shocase student work. Students love having their own designated space for display and this is a great way to model recycling and reuse.
  • Storing Supplies
    Ms. Rhoden saves containers from drink mixes, chips, etc., and uses them for classrrom storage. The price can't be beat and it's a great way to model reuse to students.
  • Storing Posters with Paper Towel Sleeves
    Don't throw away those paper towel or toilet paper cardboard cores! Ms. Leet found a good reuse for them is in storing posters. Best of all, the cardboard is free and elementary students love to bring in all you can use!
  • Socks and Tennis Balls
    Do you work in an older building and you're looking for ways to cut down on "old building" classroom noises? Ms. O'Brien says tennis balls and tube socks work for her, and best of all, her idea models recycling for her students.
  • Sheets for Shelves
    At the end of each year, Ms. Bechler puts out the call to parents for bed sheets. Find out how she uses them in an essential summer storage strategy while modeling recylcing to students.
  • Saving Paper
    Reducing paper usage not only saves money but it's a great model for students to reduce and recycle. Ms. May offers some great tips that can help you do both.
  • Recycling Student Supplies
    Here's a wonderful tip that gives school supplies that were destined for the trash a whole new use. Read about the way Ms. Bechler's school coordinates recycling end-of-year supplies for her colleagues, local agencies, and preschools.
  • Recycling School Supplies
    Here's a wonderful tip that gives school supplies that were destined for the trash a whole new use. Read about the way Ms. Bechler's school coordinates recycling end-of-year supplies for her colleagues, local agencies, and preschools.


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