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Recycling in the Science Lab!

Let's do our part to save the Earth!

I tend to get on my "Save the Planet" soapbox a lot.   No matter what the biology or chemistry topic I am currently teaching, I try to find a way to remind my students that we live on a fragile planet and that it is our responsibility to take care of it.

This school year, I reminded myself that actions speak louder than words, and I made a concerted effort to use recyclable items in my science lab.  I started by bringing a few items from home and using them for various purposes.  My students started to notice, and they began to bring in items as well.

Here are just a few examples of how we are using recyclable materials:

How many ways can you use the Styrofoam meat trays that you get from the grocery store? The tray seen above is the 2-lb hamburger meat tray!   I have a recycle bin at my house, and I am an avid recycler.  Finally, it occurred to me that these trays have many uses in my lab.  When I am setting up a lab, I line up 15 of these trays.  I add the lab supplies needed to each tray.  Students simply pick up the entire tray and carry it to their lab station.  I especially love to use these trays when stains are needed in the biology lab.  It keeps my lab tables clean and the stain washes right off the Styrofoam.

Our school had a HUGE stack of these paper book covers.  They are actually a slick, magazine type of paper.  These were about to be thrown away when I grabbed up 100's of them and hauled them to my lab.  I use them like place mats.  Students do their lab work on top of the paper mat.  It keeps my lab tables clean and minimizes the amount of clean up at the end of the class period.  When they are dirty to the point of no longer being usable, they go into the recycle bin.

This container came home from the grocery store full of strawberries.  It is the perfect size to hold all of my lab scissors.

The blueberry container is a bit smaller than the strawberry container.  It is perfect for smaller items such as these C-clamps.

I am very proud and excited to report that these small efforts have really increased awareness about recycling amongst my students.  Students are brining me items from their homes with ideas of how we might use them in our lab.  

This is a bit of a double-edged sword, though.  Kids are bringing me a lot of trash, and there are only so many uses for their recyclable items.  So when I received too much stuff, or when I cannot find a use for an item, we can always resort to this!  

I am super excited that every single room in our school has one of these!!

Here are a few links to sites that have awesome ideas about recycling in the school environment:

If you have other ideas, I would love to hear them!

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