Sustainable swaps for your classroom

It is important for teachers to strive for a more eco-friendly classroom to play a part in helping the environment and changing for the future. A great way to do this is to provide sustainable items to pupils as well as reduce the regular use of harmful materials. Doing this not only helps the environment but shows children the importance of making sustainable choices.

To help you with changes to make in your classroom, we have some ideas on sustainable swaps for your classroom. These swaps will make a small difference and put you on the right track to a greener future.


Reduce paper use

A great way to be more sustainable is to reduce your paper usage in your classroom. If possible, try to go paperless with many lessons and activities you plan. It is a vital start to making sustainable swaps as every year, schools throw away heaps of paper.

There are a number of ways you can reduce your paper use from avoiding printing activities for pupils to do, to using recycled paper for writing. You can also encourage your pupils to recycle used paper by having a separate bin for paper waste. Model their behaviour with paper yourself by reducing any paperwork and swapping to an online alternative.


Swap plastic supplies

Plastic is a major factor in the Earth’s pollution with around 27 million tons ending up in landfills. Make a change by switching out your plastic supplies and swapping for other materials such as paper or even recycled plastic that can be used over and over again. For example, instead of plastic folders or binders switch to eco-paper ones. You could also look into wooden items for your classroom such as wooden toys for pupils to play with.


Think of swapping playground equipment

A lot of playground equipment can be made from plastic or other materials that are damaging to the environment. Consider items that can be swapped for an eco-friendlier alternative, such as play equipment.

Instead of plastic climbing frames or agility courses, suggest to your school wooden alternatives that can replace them. You could also upcycle old tyres to create an agility course and climbing for children to play on. This will improve children’s climbing, balance and even coordination. Get your class to paint the tyres as an art activity so they can be involved in the process. You could switch tyres around to create new courses for the children, so they never get bored too.

Swapping playground equipment to a reused material or eco-friendly materials is a positive change for the school and pupils. They are durable and can face harsh weather so they can stay outdoors, making them last longer. Having sustainable play equipment can also encourage pupils to use recycled materials themselves too.


Swap stationery items

As a teacher, stationery is one of the most used items in your classroom for your own use and for your pupils. Due to this, stationery is one of the best sustainable swap items for you to make. Switch out plastic for reusable and sustainable materials for you and your class to use.

Find stationery alternatives that are made from renewable resources such as swapping your highlighters for Ecoline Highlighters. These highlighters are perfect for the classroom as the water-based neon inks are vibrant with no bleeding as well as being made from 90% renewable resources. They are also climate neutral and refillable too so they can be used over and over.

You could also look for recycled notepads for children to use as well as recycled sticky notes, refillable pens and eco-pencils as these are what you use most in the classroom. Why not swap out your whiteboard markers too? Edding’s Ecoline Boardmarkers are perfect for you to use in your lessons as they dry fast and are easily wipeable. These markers are also made from recycled plastic and can be refilled too, lasting you much longer than normal whiteboard markers!


sustainable swaps- children learning about recycyling in sustainable playground

Clean more eco-friendly

Cleaning products usually come in plastic packaging, such as plastic bottles. Plus, the solutions can sometimes have harmful chemicals in them that, when in production, has a negative effect on the environment.

Due to this, consider swapping your usual cleaning products for more eco alternatives. There are many environmentally friendly cleaning solutions to choose from. Most are made from plant materials and exclude harmful chemicals making your classroom cleaner in a safe way. Eco solutions also tend to come in biodegradable packaging and are animal cruelty-free too.

A great cleaning swap to make for your classroom is antibacterial wipes for surfaces. Wipes make it easy to wipe down tables after use to prevent the spread of germs. However, many wipes are disposable and aren’t biodegradable so look for options that are biodegradable to be more sustainable.


Swap hygiene products

Keep up with offering your pupils hygiene products to help stop illnesses from spreading. Many hygiene items can be damaging to the environment. For example, a lot of hand sanitisers come in plastic bottles that get thrown away after use. These then add to the plastic waste in landfill that never decompose so it’s best to research eco-friendlier hand sanitisers for your pupils to use.

Another hygiene product to change in your classroom is tissues. Tissues are made from paper so therefore they affect the amount of trees that are cut down to use for paper. Instead, offer eco-friendly alternatives for tissues which could be packs of handkerchiefs or explore bamboo tissues.


Set up a swap day

Encourage your pupils to bring in old supplies, books or toys they don’t want anymore for a swap day. This is a great way to introduce sustainable swaps to children whilst giving them an opportunity to help out their peers and find something new for themselves. It also gets rid of the need to throw old, unused or partially used items away.

Set up the swap day into piles so that all similar items are grouped together. Doing this lets children see what’s on offer easier and they can look for specific items they may need. Loop parents into the plans for the swap day so they can organise items they may have around the house. They can also help their children choose what to give away as it can be difficult to do.



Use these sustainable swaps for your classroom to make a change and help the environment. Show the importance of these changes to your pupils so they understand how to make greener choices for the environment. You could also share with your pupils how you think about making changes and the reasons why you make them. For example, you could tell them about how harmful paper is to the environment and how paper is used the most, so it needs swapping.

Teach your class about the environment and why we should protect it through various ecosystems. Delve into the importance of bees with our world bee day blog and have a go at the quiz too.

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