Creative Classroom Ideas for Recycling at School

Grandmother and grandchildren sort bottles, plastic and paper for recycling.

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Teach your students good environmental habits by reusing and recycling classroom items at school. Not only will you be demonstrating how to live an eco-friendly life, but you will also save a lot of money on classroom supplies. Here are a few ideas for taking your everyday household items and recycling them at school.

Cans, Cups, and Containers

A cheap and easy way for recycling at school is to ask students to save all of their cans, cups, and containers. You can reuse these everyday household items in the following ways:

  • Crayons cans: Collect small butter and frosting containers and use them for your crayons. Crayon boxes tend to tear easily, and this way students will have a durable crayon container that should last all year long.
  • Paint cups: Ask students to save their yogurt cups and use them as paint cups.
  • Paint containers: Ask your local photo shop to donate their old film containers. You can use these containers for individual painting projects. They are durable enough where they can be used again and again.

Cartons, Canisters, and Cardboard Containers

Another way for recycling at school is to ask students to save all of their egg cartons, coffee canisters, and cardboard containers to reuse in the following ways:

  • Egg cartons: Egg cartons can be used to sort items, or as a paint holder, planter, or sculpture. It can also be used for a variety of crafts.
  • Coffee canisters: These can be used to store art supplies and make crafts, or they can be used in games.
  • Cardboard containers: Cardboard fast food containers can be used for crafts or special projects.

Bottles, Baskets, and Boxes

Hair dye or perm bottles, plastic laundry baskets, and boxes are a few other household items you may have around the house. Here are a few ways to reuse them:

  • Hair dye bottles: At the beginning of the school year, ask your students' parents to save their hair dye bottles. You can use these bottles as glue containers.
  • Laundry baskets: Use plastic laundry baskets to store stuffed animals, dress-up clothes, and supplies. These baskets are cheap and durable.
  • Laundry boxes: Laundry boxes are an organized teacher's dream. Cut the top off of the box and cover with contact paper, now you can use them to store papers. They can also be used for activities and games. You can even label each box according to subject, if you want to be ultra-organized.
  • Baby wipe boxes: Baby wipe plastic boxes can be used to store markers, crayons, dice, pennies, beads, pencils, buttons, pins, shells, stones, buttons, or just about anything.
  • Cereal boxes: These boxes can be cut and used as book covers, as a painting surface, or as tagboard.

Pawns, Paper Towels, and Plastic Lids

The plastic tops of water bottles and the lids off of butter and yogurt are great as game pieces. Here are a few other ways to recycle and reuse plastic lids, and paper towel rolls:

  • Water bottle tops: Water bottle tops can be used for game pieces. Have your students collect and save all of the tops to their water bottles. Color the clear tops different colors and use them as board game pawns.
  • Paper towel rolls: Use paper towel and toilet paper rolls for crafts, such as a stargazer, binoculars, or birdfeeder.
  • Plastic lids: Collect plastic lids from coffee, yogurt, butter, or anything similar to that size and use for crafts or in the learning center. If using in the learning center, clear lids work best for question and answer activities. If using for crafts, lids can be used as coasters, plaques, frames, or Frisbees.

Additional Ideas

  • Wrapping paper: Can be used as the backdrop of a bulletin board, for collages, as book covers, or for paper weaving.
  • Shredded paper: Can be used to stuff pillows, bears, or special projects.
  • Hangers: Can be used as mobiles to hang student projects, or as a banner.

Reusing and Recycling Paper

Do not throw away any of your old papers. Dated calendars can be used to practice number writing, multiplication tables, and learning roman numerals. While extra worksheets and old posters can be distributed to students at free time for them to practice or play school. Old textbooks can be used to practice important skills, such as having students find and circle vocabulary words, verbs, and nouns, or reinforcing grammar and punctuation.

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Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "Creative Classroom Ideas for Recycling at School." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, Cox, Janelle. (2021, September 8). Creative Classroom Ideas for Recycling at School. Retrieved from Cox, Janelle. "Creative Classroom Ideas for Recycling at School." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 26, 2023).