Turn Your College Classroom Green

Spring has sprung! To celebrate the freshness that comes along with spring and the new green that replaces the bare trees and frozen lawns, we’re going to give some tips on having a “green” classroom at the post-secondary education level.

Going green is something a lot of people are doing these days in their personal and professional lives. As a professor, what are you doing to be more eco-friendly or environmentally conscious? Here are some ideas to help you leave a smaller footprint while you’re making your mark as an educator.

Go Digital. Instead of passing out papers every class period, post course materials on your content management site and allow students to print what they feel necessary or bring their computers to class to take notes. Not only will this help keep everyone organized, it will reduce the amount of paper used overall by you and your students.

Let your students stay home. If you plan on lecturing for 15 minutes or don’t have any real content to share with your students on lecture day, don’t make them come to campus. Instead of making your students drive to campus only to be there for a total of twenty minutes, try recording your would-be lecture and posting it online. Let your students know they need to listen to it before they come to class next time.

Reuse textbooks. It takes a lot of energy to create new things like books. Save the trees, the planet, electricity, and your students’ pocketbooks and use the same text book(s) in your classroom so the books can be used over again. If you’re feeling really generous, don’t even use a textbook at all! Use an ebook that is much cheaper and didn’t take a factory to produce.

According to Green Press Initiative, every year around 30 million trees are used to make books that are sold in the US (which is 1,153 times the number of trees in New York City’s Central Park)! The same source states that the book and newspaper industry emit nearly 125 million tons of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to over 7.2 million cars. On top of that, the industry has contributed to endangering forests and impacting the climate and communities around the world.

Pick green publishers. When you have to use new books, go with a publisher that has pledged to be green. Many publishers are doing what they can to make more environmentally conscious decisions about their book production. If you have the ability, pick a book made by a company that is doing whatever they can to shrink their footprint on the planet.

Have your lecture outside. It might sound a bit silly, but why not enjoy some beautiful weather? If you have a smaller class, take everyone outside and find a good spot to sit and have class. Why sit in a dim room when you can soak up some sun and save some energy?

Encourage recycling. Many campuses have their own recycling programs. Be sure to take part in yours by placing recycle bins (most likely for paper and plastic bottles) in a visible spot in your classroom and making sure students are aware of them. Then, make yourself use them! If your campus doesn’t have a program and it’s something you’d like to see, take the initiative and start one yourself. There are tons of great resources out there to help you get started. Check out this great article on how to start up a recycling program on a college campus: Green Campus: College and University Waste Reduction.

Use SAGrader! Okay, so maybe we’re a little biased, but SAGrader really is a green tool. Think of it this way: instead of making your students print out draft after draft for their essays and papers, which you will use pen after pen to grade, have them submit their papers electronically, receive personalized feedback instantly they can use to revise their work. Then you can view their work and progress all without printing a single paper or wasting your favorite pen!

What ways are you keeping your college classroom and campus green?