In honor of Earth Day, here are some tips on things we have done to make our newsroom / classroom / lab more eco-friendly.
1. Recycle your toner. Our school has a central toner recycling secretary. We just have to drop them off when they are empty. Save your original boxes too. Less trash, plus it is the perfect shipping container.
2. Go paperless. We moved our news magazine online as a PDF and web based publication. No more printing thousands of copies that only ended up in the trash. We do offer a printing service, but most kids and teachers would rather download anyway.
3. Use CFL lights in your broadcast studio. We can’t afford expensive TV lights anyway, so we use simple round work lights (such as you find in your garage) to light our set. It is really not that hard to get a well lit small set with work lights. Now replace all those old fashioned bulbs with CFLs (compact florescent lights). Just make sure you adjust your camera settings.
4. Set all your computers to power off each day. Computers use a lot of power. We use Macs and in OS X there is the ability to set a daily power up, shut down and of course set your monitors to power down when not being used for more than 5 minutes.
5. Use rechargeable batteries in all your cameras. A lot of medium priced digital cameras need AA batteries. Don’t just keep throwing those away. Buy rechargeable batteries. You not only save a lot of money, but every battery has a lot of lead and heavy metals in it.
6. Reuse. We rarely ever throw away an old computer. Right now I have an old iMac from around 2001 that is being used as a print spooler. It only has about 128 MB of Ram and a 500 MB hard drive, but it makes a great print spooler. Remember a computer has a lot of metals and other pollutants in it. Don’t throw it away until you know you’ve gotten the most use out of it. We donated several old computers to our life skills class. They can still use them to surf the net, create documents and slide shows.
7. Recycle. Besides toner, we also recycle paper. Our student council comes by once a month and picks it up. So we have a paper recycling box in the classroom. If it gets full too fast, we take it out ourselves. Whenever we do finally get rid of a computer, it goes to the district auction, where it can either find one more life, or it goes to a computer recycling outfit to be striped.
8. Turn out the lights. Whenever we leave the classroom for any reason, we turn off the lights. Plus, many days we work with the lights off. A lot of publications and photographers will tell you that your monitor looks better when you turn off the lights anyway. And we always keep the blinds closed to keep out sunlight and heat.
9. Get rid of your darkroom. If you still have a darkroom, ditch it. In the age of digital photography, a darkroom is a resource hog. The waste of water, chemicals, silver and paper is appalling in most darkrooms. Plus most high schools are not set up to meet OSHA standards for a darkroom.
10. Second life. We try to reuse everything. We subscribe to a few good magazines to look at the design, but then we save them and cut them up to use in other projects and assignments. Finally, when they’re totally scrap, then they go in the recycling bin. We have bins for items we use over and over like scissors and rulers. We don’t waste students money just so they can buy another new set of scissors. Each year we look into what is needed and have the students buy it. Then it becomes staff property. No one goes without. Plus we don’t waste resources.
Think about energy and resource conservation every day and keep your classroom and lab green.