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K-12 Schools | P2

Instead of managing the waste after it has been created by recycling, treatment or disposal, pollution prevention (P2) prevents the generation of waste in the first place. Learn how to reduce waste at the source in your school.


Achieve P2 Through Education

Teach staff and students about P2, source reduction and the many different pollution types and how it affects the environment (air, water, soil).

Create or participate in an alternative transportation program and encourage parents and students to walk, bike, or ride a scooter to school | See the Safe Routes to School National Partnership >

Encourage staff and students to carry their own reusable bottles to eliminate plastic bottle waste. Create a recycling program to reduce the amount of recyclable material that goes to the landfill.

Look up recycling programs in your community | Learn More >  

Create Healthy Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air pollution can have a harmful impact on schools staff and students. Healthy indoor air quality includes:

  1. Control of airborne pollutants;
  2. Introduction and distribution of adequate outdoor air; and
  3. Maintenance of acceptable temperature and relative humidity.

Through simple, low-cost actions, your school can improve air quality and:

  • Save money
  • Improve health
  • Decrease student and staff absenteeism 

EPA's Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Mobile App allows schools to choose a checklist and conduct assessments, track IAQ problems, generate a report and identify solutions to improve IAQ | Get the IAQ Mobile App >

Read about IAQ success stories at schools | View Page > 

ADEQ's School Vehicle Idling Reduction Program

Vehicle emissions at school occur from school buses, parent vehicles and delivery trucks. Reduce vehicle emissions by educating the school. Check out the program web page to learn more | Go to Page >

Start an idling reduction program at your school by:

Get the Idle Reduction Toolkit | Download .ZIP File >

Green Chemistry

Reduce the surplus of chemicals by purchasing only what is necessary. Don’t forget about stored chemicals! Keep an up to date inventory with dates of purchase to avoid expired material. Practice first-in first-out: use the oldest chemicals (acquired first) before you use the newest chemicals.

Don’t store incompatible chemicals together. See King County’s Rehab the Lab to view lab safety videos | Learn More >

Green your lesson plans: redesign lab projects and lessons to reduce the use of chemicals or to use less toxic chemicals. See the American Chemical Society green chemistry educational resources for students and educators | Learn More >

If toxic chemicals must be used, consider lab projects and lesson plans in groups to reduce the use of chemicals. You may also develop a list of alternative products and chemicals that can be purchased and used. Talk to your chemical supplier to see if they offer a take back program.

Limit access to chemicals to approved staff.

Check out EPA’s Safer Choice website to find safer products for your school by browsing the full product listing | See EPA's Safe Choice >

Products with the Safer Choice label help consumers and commercial buyers identify products with safer chemical ingredients, without sacrificing quality or performance. The Safer Chemical Ingredients List is arranged by functional-use and consists of chemicals that have been evaluated and determined to be safer than traditional chemical ingredients | See Safer Chemical Ingredients List >

Energy Conservation

Train maintenance workers to look for and plug holes and caulk windows to stop heat and cooling loss. See the "Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning Systems" section of Indoor Air Quality Design Tools for Schools to maintain good indoor air quality through adequate HVAC maintenance and to train maintenance staff | Learn More >

Remind staff and students to turn off lights and electronics when not in use in classrooms and around the school. Consider installing occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights in rooms that are commonly used.

Measure and track energy and water usage; contact your local utilities to conduct energy and water audits.

Join the Cool School Challenge to engage students and teachers in practical strategies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases school-wide | Join Cool School Challenge >

Do know how to conserve energy with the computers at school? See the Energy Star’s instructions to activate power management on your computer for further information | Learn More >

Water Conservation

Use native landscaping to reduce water use | See ADEQ’s P2 with Xeriscape >

Detect and repair leaks at school. Look for leaking toilets and faucets in bathrooms, classrooms and kitchens and for leaking hoses. Install flow reducing devices at your school like faucet aerators, on-off valves on hoses and low flow toilets. Check out EPA’s WaterSense® website to find water-saving products10 that can help your school and the environment | See EPA's WaterSense >

Install water conservation signs in restrooms and classrooms. Determine the school's water use by monitoring meters and reviewing past and current water bills. Teach students about water conservation and to alert staff about water leaks.