lemonade learning Reducing School
and Office Waste

Custom Search

The Story of Stuff:
Online Documentary

Watch, learn, share!

Reducing Paper Use

Record Keeping

The Commute
Lunches and Snacks
Other Ways to Reduce Waste
Peer Pressure and Media Hype
Related Pages:
Reducing Waste
at Home

Reducing Party Waste
Educational Links Page
Energy Saving
Ideas Page

Lemonade Home Page
Homemade Ideas:
Cards and Wrappings
Easy Homemade Gifts
Kid Concotions Recipes
Kid-Friendly Food Recipes

Back to the Top

Back to the Top

Not very long ago, most people realized that their survival depended on the wise use of resources. Although this is much less obvious to us in our daily lives now, the well-being of humanity (as well as most other living things) still depends on our wise use of resources. This page has some ideas to help you reduce waste and still have fun.

While Learning and Working

Reduce the waste associated with office and educational activities

Have you ever taken a close look at the waste generated by a school or office? We have become so used to disposables, that we consider it normal to generate much unnecessary waste.

Here are some common places that waste occurs at at home, work and school:

  • overuse and waste of paper
  • prepared lunches and snacks
  • disposable pens and pencils
  • excess car travel and idling
  • trendy disease
  • inadequate recycling and composting practices

Ways You Can Decrease Waste


  • Use a chalkboard, whiteboard or other erasable surface for calculations, seminar/lecture notes, etc.
  • Use a whiteboard, chalkboard or other erasable surface for "board work", "minute math" and similar classroom jobs
  • Prepare and accept electronic reports and encourage others to do so
  • Contact people via email or telephone instead of snail mail whenever possible
  • If something must be printed, use as small a font and as large margins as practical and print it double-sided (but not when you submit your manuscript for publication!)
  • Use 100% post-consumer recycled paper products and recycle your own paper waste
  • Use every page of old notebooks; cut out extra pages instead of letting them go to waste
  • If you use the same worksheet repeatedly, print out several and have them laminated so they can be wiped off and reused
  • If you receive reply envelopes with your bills, etc. reuse them by affixing an address sticker to the front
  • newsletters: make them available online and only print out copies for families who request a paper copy

Record Keeping

  • As much as possible, keep your records electronically, and be sure to back them up regularly
  • If you need paper copies, be sure to print them small font, large margins, double-sided on 100% post-consumer recycled paper
  • Re-use file folders, change the sticker labels as necessary
  • Depending on the records you need, consider taking digital photos, audio recordings, video, etc. as part of your record keeping
  • see my record keeping for homeschoolers page for further suggestions

The Commute

  • If you can work from home, do so
  • If you must travel to work or school, walk, cycle, use transit or carpool (transit and car pooling give you extra work or "down time" that sitting at the wheel in traffic wastes)
  • Participate in your school's "walking school bus" program if it has one, and if not, start one
  • If you must drop off or pick up your child by car (for an appointment etc.), do not idle your vehicle
  • Teach your older child how to safely ride transit and encourage him or her to do so with friends (offer to pay for their bus pass, but not for gas)
  • Teens very rarely need a car, and really do not need to drive to school!
  • Live as close to your workplace as possible
  • IF you tend to travel often for work, consider how necessary each trip really is--can it be accomplished without travel via conference calls, videophone, faxes, email, internet, etc.? Can trips be combined?

Lunches and Snacks

  • Steer away from highly packaged items
  • pack a litterless lunch by using your own reusable containers, cutlery etc.
  • Voice opposition to vending machines in your child's school
  • Label your containers so your reusables don't become disposable by getting lost
  • Bring your own lunch as much as possible
  • Eat a large meal at home before going out so you will need to pack less food
  • Many reusable drink containers can be frozen; experiment with the timing so your drink can serve double duty as a cool pack as well
  • If your workplace provides coffee, encourage them to try organic fair-trade varieties
  • If you must have that coffee for your commute, set up your coffee maker timer the night before, use organic, fair-trade coffee, and your own reusable travel mug rather than wasting fuel in a drive-thru for plantation coffee in a disposable cup (it will be much faster to bring your own)
  • Be kind to yourself and skip the donut too!

Other Ways to Reduce Waste

  • Use your local public library and used bookstores rather than buying all you read
  • Share a newspaper, or better yet, get an online subscription
  • Ask to be taken off of mailing lists that you don't need, and post a "no flyers" sign on your mailbox
  • Use refillable pens and mechanical pencils
  • Borrow or rent larger equipment if you don't use it often
  • Set your computer and monitor (and other electronics) to power save mode and shut them down at night and at each break
  • Ensure that lighting is turned off when it is not in use (consider installing motion sensors)
  • Look in your waste baskets and recycling for further ideas as to where to reduce waste
  • Ensure that your school or workplace recycles and composts to their full ability
  • Let your local politicians know these issues are important to you, and vote accordingly
  • delay making purchases/upgrading equipment by using items as long as possible
  • keep equipment well maintained

A Word About "Trendy Disease"

    Trendy Disease is what I call the perceived need to continuously update to the newest fashion, electronics, toys, etc. with little or no consideration for the actual need involved in such purchases.
    As humans, we have some basic needs that cannot be ignored including food, shelter, clean air, clean water, a sense of personal security and a sense of belonging--love. We do not really have a need for a new IPod or bling. We do not really need to own a brand new sports car and an SUV. These are desires, not needs. Those with "Trendy Disease" find this distinction difficult to make.

    Wherever we go, we are bombarded with advertising, so it is no wonder that we all suffer from this to some degree. But this is a disease we cannot afford to ignore. It is one thing to become cosncious of it for ourselves, but much harder to shelter preteens and teens from its debilitating effects. And it is important, for the earth, yes, of course, but also for the psychological and emotional well-being of our kids to solve this one. So many of us become lost to our culture's intense materialism--owned by our possessions--that we lose sight of ourselves and the things that are truly important to us. We become defined by status symbols (and judge others by theirs) while losing our identities.

    I don't have many answers for this one, but I am working on it, and I encourage you to do the same.