At school you can reduce, reuse & recycle

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Waste is a problem. Fortunately there are things that we can all do about it.

We call these the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle.

– Reduce means cut the amount of stuff you use in the first place so that you have less to throw away

– Reuse means use things again (and again and again)

– Recycle means using things that have already been used, to make new things

Here are some ideas on how to do these three things at school:


– Rather than starting a new page for each piece of work, rule off below previous work and continue on the same page.

– Is it necessary to print everything you do in the I.T. room out onto paper? And if so, could it be printed double sided?

– If your school has a lot of food waste, could this be because people are being given portions that are too big or (perhaps more likely) that they are being given things that they don’t want to eat? If this is the case, get your head teacher or school council to talk to the people who provide the food to the school.

– If you take your own lunch to school, aim for ‘waste-free lunches’. Use reusable bottles or flasks for drinks instead of individual cartons or cans and reusable airtight containers for snacks and packed lunches instead of disposable wrappers. And perhaps most importantly, don’t take more food than you can eat!

– Buy snacks with less packaging on them, for example, an apple instead of a packet of crisps.

– When organising parties at Christmas and the end of term, use washable plates and cups and metal cutlery instead of disposable ones made from paper and plastic.


– Always use both sides of a piece of paper before you recycle it or throw it away. Make sure that every classroom has a ‘scrap’ paper tray and put paper that has only been used on one side into this, rather than putting it straight in the bin or sending it off for recycling. The paper can then be used for ‘rough work’ or at wet play times.

– Reuse old paper that cannot be written on any more to make ‘papier mache’ models or masks. You can also mix it with water and mash it up to make a pulp for 3D modelling or making your own recycled paper. Find uses for other items of waste, for example in artwork or using plastic pots for growing seeds.

– Use refillable pens instead of disposable ones.

– Buy a special flask or wash out an old bottle. Fill it with water and take it to school each day. Don’t forget to clean it thoroughly before using it again the next day.

– Encourage the school to install water filters to enable students to refill their water bottles.

– Encourage the school to use rechargeable batteries and refillable print cartridges.


– Not surprisingly, the main material thrown away by schools is paper, which makes up at least quarter of the waste produced by schools. Contact the recycling officer at your school and ask them to provide your school with a paper recycling bin or equivalent. Then, set up a system of paper collection from each classroom, which can be taken to the main recycling bin at the end of each day or week.

– If your school has a drinks vending machine, put a bin next to it to collect up old cans for recycling. You can even use these to make money for your school.

– Set up a composting scheme or a worm composter for food & green waste, including all the staff’s tea bags and your fruit scraps. Again your local council’s recycling officer may be able to help here. In some cases, compost bins can be provided to schools free of charge.

– Encourage your school to buy and use recycled paper and other recycled products.

So remember to reduce, reuse and recycle your waste. It is much better to reduce waste in the first place as then there is less to deal with. Reusing things is the second best option as it saves you buying new things. After you have reduced and reused as much as you can, recycle!

Rethink! The last thing that should cross your mind is to throw it in the bin! And if you wish to make a difference, join our YOUTH programs: contact us at