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Back to School: Learning how to be green – it’s easy!

Back to schoolThe smell of fallen leaves, sharpened pencils, and bagged lunches is in the air and that can mean only one thing – it’s BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!

All across North America, parents, students, and educators are getting ready for another year of learning the all-important “3Rs”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! We’re here to help you start the year off right with eco-conscious back to school tips and tricks!

Here are just a few easy ways to get ready for the classroom, and help the planet.


Pass the Paper

If you’re anything like me, somewhere lurking in your home-office are half-used packs of paper, old binders, and notebooks. While most of our lives are becoming increasingly paperless, paper is still widely used for all sorts of great classroom activities – arts & crafts, taking notes, and my favorite: making paper airplanes! Consider donating your gently used or unused supplies to a local school, or art class. Teachers have a lot to prepare for at the start of each school year so you’re sure to get a gold star for helping out, and for creatively managing your waste.

Food Fight!

Parents have a lot on their plates, but planning meals with waste reduction in mind will get top marks! When packing lunches, use re-usable containers and opt for foods and packaging that are easy to compost or recycle. Encourage your kids to get involved at school by starting a classroom composting program. Composting is a fun, interactive way to teach kids about product lifecycle. As a bonus, in the spring that compost can be put to good use in the school garden! A+


Crafty crayons

Crayons are a staple for any budding artist – they’re scent free, don’t stain, and come in great colours. Once a crayon has been half-used, however, they get tatty and difficult to hold. Instead of throwing them away, here’s a trick to give old crayons new life:

What you’ll need:

  • Old Crayons
  • Oven-safe mould (suggest: Mini muffin tins, chocolate moulds)
  • Adult supervision

What to do:

  • Collect all the old crayon nubbins you have laying around (ask friends and neighbors to pitch in, too!)
  • Sort the crayons by colour – pretend you’re at a real life MRF – and remove the paper wrappings.
  • Put the sorted crayons into an oven-friendly mould.
  • Bake the old crayons for approximately 20 minutes at 200 degrees F to fuse the old crayons together.
  • Once they’ve cooled, pop them out of the mould and cut to size.
  • Now you have cool new colours that are good to the wallet and the environment!



Put away your E-toys

As we float along in the digital age, kids are increasingly expected to use technology (tablets, smart phones and wireless whiteboards) to enhance their learning. This means we old dogs have to learn a new trick: how to responsibly manage all the electronic gizmos that are being used in today’s classrooms.

If you have any electronics at the end of their useful life, take time with your kids to learn about how to responsibly dispose of e-scrap in your area, and plan a trip to an e-cycler near you. You can make an event out of it by hosting an e-scrap drive at your school to collect even more. Learn more about how to start an e-cycling drive here:

Electronics Scrap

Help your school make the grade

Although most of us here at Emerge Knowledge are past our school years, we still have Team Spirit! Help your school get in the game by using a little bit of friendly competition as a motivator. These programs, offered in Re-TRAC Connect, are designed to help schools promote recycling activities and track waste:

Recycle-Bowl Logo


Recycle-Bowl is a free competition and benchmarking tool for K-12 school recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities.

Whether a school has an extensive recycling program or is just launching basic recycling collections, Recycle-Bowl is an excellent way for teachers, student green teams, and facility managers to engage their school community in a fun and friendly way.

Registration is now open.

To sign up your school visit:

RecycleMania Logo


RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction and recycling activities to their campus communities. With each week’s updated ranking, participating schools follow their performance against other colleges and use the results to rally their campus to reduce and recycle more.

Registration is now open.

To sign up your school visit:

Gamedaay Challenge

GameDay Challenge

The GameDay Challenge is a friendly competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games. During the challenge, colleges and universities implement waste reduction programs during home football games. Schools track and report waste reductions and disposal data that is used to rank the schools.

Registration is now open.

To sign up your school visit:

Teachers, Parents, Students… Bueller?

Learning is a lifelong pursuit. Educating the next generation about the importance of responsibly managing our waste is a lesson that will help them their whole lives.

So we want to hear from you! What are you doing at your school to make it a greener place to learn? How do you impart the importance of making sustainable choices in a fun way? Do you have an exciting eco-project for kids you want to share? Tell us your story in the comments section below.

Happy Learning!