Pollution prevention at school

Pollution prevention (P2) is about not creating pollution and waste, rather than trying to clean it up after the fact. It involves looking at the causes of waste and pollution and figuring out how to prevent it.

Be an agent of change

Your impact is not only what you do, but also who you influence. By teaching your students how they can prevent pollution and why they should, you can really make a difference and be an agent of change! Even better, they can then influence their friends and families and be agents of change themselves!

Ways to prevent pollution

There are several general techniques you can use to prevent pollution at school:

Re-use, repair and repurpose

  • Reuse school supplies instead of buying new ones
  • Invite do-it-yourselfers to come in and teach students how to repair toys and clothes
  • Repurpose old or damaged clothing into new designs

Remember the little things

  • Bike, walk, or share rides to and from school
  • Bring litterless lunches
  • Use “half-lighting” in your classroom (only half the lights are turned on) if there is enough natural lighting
  • Turn off monitors, lights and taps when they are not in use

Share and trade

  • Start a book exchange
  • Encourage children to share toys and trade them when they’ve outgrown them

Take the quiz

How good are you at preventing pollution?

Use this quiz to find out how good your students are at preventing pollution in their day-to-day lives. On a later date, retake the quiz to see how they've improved.

Instructions:

  1. Read the actions below
  2. Score yourself
    • I try to do it = 1
    • I never do it = 0
  3. Tally up your score and see how environmentally friendly you are!

Actions

  1. I turn off the lights when I leave an empty room
  2. I turn off computer equipment at the end of the day to save energy
  3. I turn the taps off tightly to avoid dripping
  4. I bike, walk or bus to school, or share rides to and from school
  5. I use unbleached, recycled paper
  6. I use non-toxic glues, paints, markers and other materials
  7. I encourage my classmates not to litter and to recycle properly
  8. I talk about environmental issues and alternatives with my family and friends
  9. I take my lunch to school in re-usable containers and a re-usable lunch bag
  10. I don't use single use plastic knives, spoons and forks at lunch
  11. I compost my uneaten food where possible
  12. I save unused or partially used sheets of paper to use as scrap paper
  13. I collect unused school supplies to reuse next year
  14. I try to make my art projects out of things I already have at home instead of going to the store

How did you score?

  • 11 to 14: You really know your P2! Share your knowledge and be an agent of change!
  • 6 to 10: Good job! You obviously care about the planet!
  • 0 to 5: Nice try. Hopefully the quiz gave you a few ideas on how to be more environmentally friendly.

Teacher's corner

Involve your class. Here are some classroom ideas:

Ages 0 to 5

Job chart

Incorporate environmental activities into your classroom job chart. For example, turning lights off after everyone's left the room.

Toy exchange

Every student brings in an unused toy. For every toy, the student gets a ticket which they can exchange for a new “used” toy. All unclaimed toys are donated to a charity. Unused tickets can be saved for the next toy exchange.

Ages 6 to 7

Rewards program

Students are rewarded for their environmentally friendly behaviour. You can use punch cards to track their actions. After a student has filled their card, they get a classroom award such as being able to choose their partner in the next class assignment, getting to use the teacher's chair or receiving a sticker.

Ages 8 to 9

Agent of change research project

As a class, brainstorm new and innovative ways to make the school more environmentally friendly. Make a list of the best ideas. Assign students to each idea and ask them to create an action plan, detailing how they would implement it. Have students present their work.

Ages 10 to 12

"Repair it" show and tell

Students are tasked with finding broken but repairable objects in their home, like shoes, shirts with missing buttons, or Christmas decorations, and finding out how to repair them. They will then explain step-by-step how it was fixed and present to the class. Compile each student's work into a digital repair guidebook that can be taken home or shared with other classes.

Ages 13 to 18

Model government

Students will learn how to solve complex environmental issues within various layers of government.

How to set up your model government:

  • Identify an environmental issue, such as greenhouse gas emissions, protection of natural resources and clean energy
  • Put students into groups of 3, each representing a different level of government (federal, provincial/territorial, municipal)
  • Brainstorm and then debate ideas to come to a consensus strategy
  • Prepare a detailed report and present to your classmates

Find out more

Search the Pollution prevention finder to find links to tonnes of resources that can help you be more environmentally friendly. It’s updated regularly, so check back often.

We want to hear from you

If you and your class have great ideas for how you can prevent pollution, we would love to hear them. Tweet us @environment.ca, using the hashtag #PollutionPrevention or email us ec.planp2.p2plan.ec@ec.gc.ca

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