To kick off the start of school, the National Youth Council is promoting a more sustainable school year during the month of September. Whether we’re learning in classrooms or remotely, there are steps we can all take to reduce our environmental impact.

An hour of energy conservation a day by turning off lights on sunny days can reduce energy consumption both at home and in the classroom. Diya Desai, the Communications Officer for the National Youth Council, states that “We are going back to school and using more energy than we were in the summer! With the sunlight, this may not always be necessary. We are suggesting to have your teachers turn off their lights on sunnier days. You could even go to your school with an initiative and have them implement a day for all of the teachers in the school to turn off the lights! Help us save energy on a nationwide level.

Outdoor learning spaces are another great idea. Not only do they use natural light, but they also have the added benefits of improving mental health and encouraging students to get outdoors.

Ria Thekkethala, the Vice President of the National Youth Council, notes that “With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers may find it challenging to engage students. However, with various physical challenges and incentives, teachers could boost student participation. One idea is hosting a nature scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt would require students to collect various set objects from the outdoors. Not only will students get the opportunity to get away from their computer screens, but this activity works great as a classroom icebreaker or spirit day activity. Another way to engage students is through apps such as Ecosia, Forest, and Sweat Coin. These apps provide easy ways for students to team up with their peers, increase productivity, and help the environment. Students are experiencing a new type of learning. However, with these ideas, teachers will be able to retain and potentially increase student participation and the sense of community.”

If you’re looking for ways to up your style, try thrifting to find unique pieces and reduce resource waste. Older clothing and fabrics can also be repurposed to create reusable cloth masks and minimize waste generated by disposable masks.

Another idea is to reuse school supplies from previous years. Older notebooks can be used as scrap paper, and reusable stationery such as mechanical pencils or pens can be refilled instead of discarded. Staying hydrated is also critical to learning, so consider investing in a high-quality BPA-free water bottle.

And of course, there’s everyone’s favorite subject: lunch. Reducing excess packaging, using reusable products, recycling, and promoting locally grown foods are all ways we can reduce our environmental impact during our meals this year.

By implementing even some of these practices, we can all help to improve the condition of our environment. Try to encourage your classes to use some of these ideas to make the most of what this academic year has to offer.

Check out our September Initiative PDF for more!