Here are some simple, every day practices you can implement to lead your early learning service on a journey to living more sustainably.
At the dining table
- Place a compost bowl on the lunch table for food scraps that can be recycled, and another one for recyclable soft packaging. Explain to the children what goes in and why. Install a compost bin or worm farm in the centre space. Sure you will get some bugs, but grab the magnifying glass and get exploring.
- At the dining table, encourage children to pour their leftover water into a jug, and then water plants with it.
- Have a yoghurt maker at the centre to provide yoghurt for children as an alternative to each child bringing their own. Families could pay a regular donation towards the costs involved in this
In the Bathroom
- Provide children with a facecloth to dry their hands with as an alternative to using paper towels
- Encourage children to use one paper towel when drying their hands. Show them how to shake the water off their hands before drying.
- Consider providing cloth nappies as an alternative to disposables. These could be washed and dried by your centre. Consider how many nappies you would be saving from the landfill.
- Choose to use cleaning products that are low in chemicals, or eco-friendly.
- Go to the library and choose a selection of books on earth, nature, climate change, and about the impact humans are making on the earth.
- Show respect for the environment and the equipment. The longer things last, the less we will need to create and buy.
- Consider using rubbish bins without liners to cut back on plastic rubbish bags.
- Turn off the lights, or at least half of them during the day when you can.
- Add water to your paint container and shake it to get the last bit of paint out. Cut the container open and use a scraper to get the very last bit of paint out.
- Plant a variety of plants with the children. Engage children in discussion about the benefits of plants and the responsibility of caring for plants too.
- Use a clothes line outside to hang your laundry on. Children love to help with “household” jobs.
- Host a day where you go out into your community and pick up discarded rubbish. You can purchase child sized gloves at garden centres.
- Provide a rain collection barrel, and use this for water play. This is a great way for children to learn about and experience water as being a finite resource. Talk about the importance of conserving water and the impact this has on our environment.
In the staff room
- Sort the rubbish by type. Put paper into one bin, plastics and other recyclable items into another.
- If you are buying your lunch, bring your own container and ask for it to be put in this.
- How can you engage families, thus spreading your ideas and passion to the wider community?
- Do you recycle everything that can be recycled? If not, how can you make it easy to do so?
- What barriers have you encountered and how can you overcome them?
- Have you ever audited your centre and had a really hard look at how you could improve and become more sustainable?
- How can leaders embed sustainable practices into the culture of a learning service?