Recycling school 1200

If we want to ensure our streams, rivers, and bays keep free of trash, we need to teach our children from an early age the beauty of nature and respect for its resources. Schools have an important role in setting standards and expectations on how to treat discarded materials as resources instead of wasting them. By integrating the students into the school's approach, collaboratively checking the status quo, and defining goals and the means to get there, we create the needed sense of ownership to drive positive behaviors.


Recycling Will Help

Much of what pupils and teachers discard in school facilities and grounds (classrooms, cafeterias, offices, common areas ) is either food waste, paper, or cardboard. The rest, about one-tenth, is metal, glass, plastic and cartons. Nearly everything discarded at school can be recycled or composted. (New York City, 2015)

Recycling Builds the Economy

The economic value of recycling is often underestimated. In Alabama, 84,412 jobs depend on recycling, and it is responsible for 19.4 billion dollars of economic activity in the state (SERDC, 2014)


Set Up a Recycle Station at your School or Business

Create a permanent recycling program starting with one station.

Make Recycling a School-Wide Activity

  • Invite speakers to share on the topic, educate teachers and students alike
  • Go on field trips to explore opportunities and best practices (other schools, colleges, companies)
  • Hold contests at your school (recycling song, implementation action, art, t-shirt, receptacle...)
  • Contest in Huntsville: collecting plastic caps for 5 months (in 2013 28 schools participated)
  • Special curriculum activities on earth day
  • Have the older kids develop a training for the younger ones

Create a Green Team

Set up a green team or steering committee made of staff, students, and administrators/ operators.

Network with Nonprofits

Buy Recycled Goods

When schools use recycled paper, it creates a large environmental benefit due to the amount of paper used for printing, copies, and homework. Even better when toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins come from recycled paper.


Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program

The Alabama Outdoor Classroom Program provides free technical and organizational assistance for schools. Their Outdoor Classroom Toolbox includes grant opportunities.


EPA Classroom Material including
Quest for Less
(K-8 Teachers Guide)
Recycle City (Game)
School Recycling Program (PDF) Guide

The Green Schools Alliance

The Green Schools Alliance connects and empower schools worldwide to lead the transformation to a sustainable future.

Starting a School Recycling Program

Prepared by The Green Team. If you are interested in starting a recycling program at your school this toolkit will provide you with the basic framework for starting a successful recycling program at your school, from planning, identifying, and implementing a program that fits your needs, to monitoring and promoting your hard work.

Related Actions

Do the Trash Mob Dance

The Trash Mob Dance is a simple dance that helps teach the importance of putting trash in a trash receptical and picking up trash you see on the ground.

Types of Pollution

When water rushes off hardened surfaces, erosion of sediments degrade water conditions and smother and disrupt seagrass growth and the habitat for benthic organisms they provide.

Compounds like oil, grease, and heavy metals take a long time to break down and threaten the health of both aquatic and human life.

Litter is not only unsightly, but it also causes a variety of problems to the ecosystem as it enters our waters where it is often is mistaken for food by fish and invertebrates.

Too much fertilizer, pet waste, and other nutrients in our water often lead to serious problems like lowering dissolved oxygen levels, preventing seagrass growth, and killing fish.

Disease-causing microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and other single-celled organisms, are referred to as pathogens, some, like Salmonella, cause human health problems.

While pesticides are designed to be toxic to certain organisms, they can often be harmful and kill other species in the marine system that are important for the entire ecosystem.