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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 weekly 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.

  • Miniature Bungee Jumping and Physics
    Mr. Hill found good use for a "freebie" trinket often handed out at conferences. Read more about what he recycled and then fashioned into a viable physics lesson.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Brightening Up the Classroom
    Don’t throw away the colorful handouts you get from conferences, trainings and other meetings. Ms. Bryant has great suggestions for recycling colorful, discarded sheets to catch students’ attention and beautify your classroom.
  • White Paper Recycling
    I feel hypocritical throwing paper in the trash after teaching about tree conservation. So, I called a local recycling company and obtained two five foot tall bins to place in our school. All students...
  • 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.
  • Recycling School Supplies
    Many students do not want to save their old school supplies such as crayons, colored pencils, rulers, erasers, pencils, paper, and other items at the end of the year. In many cases, these items just g...
  • Recycling Paper Egg Cartons
    It's easy to recycle paper egg cartons. In the spring, cut the egg container apart into separate cups and clip them all until they have four points. Have the children paint them, put a pipe cleaner...
  • Recycling Lamination
    Used laminating film makes great overhead sheets. I simply go into a copy store and inform them that...
  • Recycled Waste Paper Project
    This fun spring project gives students real experience with recycling and reusing common classroom waste and helps them understand the importance of keeping the environment clean and safe.
  • Overhead Transparencies
    Do not throw away the large scraps left after trimming posters that have been laminated! Ms. Popieski says you can give them a new life. Read about her tip, here.
  • Old CDs Make Good Wheels
    Eighth-grade physical science teacher Ms. Greene has a great way to give old or scratched CDs new life. See how her students use them for problem-solving and other sctivities.
  • Old Cds Make Good Picture Frames
    Elementary school teacher Ms. Piercy has a nifty arts and crafts idea, using old or damaged compact disc cases. This project is quick, easy and can be used to decorate refrigerators or Christmas trees.
  • Box Recycling
    Make portable file boxes or portfolio cases with this common household item. It’s a great way to reuse and recycle!
  • Banking Day
    Ms. Bell’s classroom store doubles as a clever incentive program encourages good behavior in addition to reinforcing math and money skills. Find out how she stocks and manages the store inventory, and how students balance their books.


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