Have you thought about making your music teaching studio as eco-friendly as possible? Since we’re in the business of teaching the next generation — the ones who will bear the burden of the choices we make now — I think it’s only right that we do everything we can now to reduce our waste and harmful impact in the process.
There are of course many environmentally-friendly changes, small and big, that we can each make. I’m not going to talk about the big ones here like going vegan or boycotting fast fashion stores.
Instead, I want to share 5 little adjustments you could make towards a more eco-friendly teaching studio which can reduce your carbon footprint.
Change 1: Reduce the Lamination
Ack! Lamination is so beautiful and it stops little jammy fingers from ruining our games!
I know, I know. But we really don’t need it for everything, if we’re honest.
In case you’re not already aware, laminated paper is not recyclable. As people often cite, it takes 500 years to biodegrade (turns out it might actually double that). 😨
Since starting Vibrant Music Teaching I have actually stopped laminating the vast majority of my resources. I only laminate flashcards (because they really do get handled an awful lot) and particular games that need durability like the “-erama” series.
Now, before you think I’m all holier-than-thou, I didn’t initially stop laminating so that I could save the world. I stopped laminating because I have to photograph every game and lamination doesn’t play nicely in photos. Then because I already had the games assembled, I let students use them without lamination.
And they didn’t get ruined.
Sure, some cards get bent and there’s the occasional scuff mark. But for the most part, students are very respectful of the games if you ask them to be. (After all, they love the games and want them to stay in use even more than we do!)
Action step: Think twice before you laminate and ask yourself: Is it really necessary?
Change 2: Reuse Paper
Another change I’ve made more recently is to start taking back old assignment sheets from students’ folders and printing new assignment sheets on the back. This means that every sheet gets used twice instead of once before it goes in the recycling.
Paper isn’t the worst culprit for emissions and waste, for sure, but it’s not angelic either. I’ve heard estimates that a single sheet of paper takes 20 litres (more than 5 gallons) of water to produce, not to mention the trees.
Action step: Always find a way to use both sides of paper before recycling, and buy recycled paper if you can.
What about going paperless?
Some of you are screaming at the screen or rolling your eyes right now so let me address the elephant in the room. I should go paperless, right? Use an app instead of pages for assignments?
I have considered it, trust me. But for the parents in my studio, the concerns about screen time out-weigh the environmental benefits here. Plus, most primary school students (thankfully) don’t seem to have their own device in my community. They often share an iPad with a sibling or a parent and I don’t want to put barriers in the way of them practising – I work hard enough as it is to get them to practise!
Change 3: Refill Ink Cartridges
Paper isn’t the only waste created by printing. Many printers burn through cartridges of ink faster than you can blink, and that plastic gets thrown away.
I’m lucky. Here in Ireland, we have a wonderful company called Cartridge Green who I pay an annual fee for them to refill my ink cartridges as many times as I like.
If you do some research you may find a similar program, or at least an ink refill shop, near you.
If you can’t find one and you’re in the market for a new printer, at least consider the ink cartridges and how long each one lasts. Some brands (especially the cheapest printers) have very stingy cartridges that cannot be refilled. I know Cartridge Green only uses Brother printers for exactly this reason.
Action step: Find out if you can get your ink cartridges refilled and compare carefully when buying a new printer.
Change 4: Make Your Own Snacks
We all need a little energy booster on long teaching days. You probably already have a go-to snack to provide a little pick-me-up.
Let me ask you a question about that snack: Does it come in a little plastic wrapper?
If not, you can toddle on ahead to change no. 5. But if it does, let’s consider replacing it with something homemade, packaging-free and (probably) healthier.
Making your own snacks doesn’t have to take long either. Some of these snack recipes take literally about 10 minutes in total to make.
Action step: Test some recipes and make a plan to keep homemade snacks on hand.
Change 5: Add Plants
This is one I’m resolving to remedy soon in my studio.
I take pretty good care of my garden and grow my own fruits and vegetables. But I have never been good at taking care of houseplants.
However, I love an indoor space with greenery. It has a calming effect, keeps the air fresh and every little helps to tip the scales and redress the balance between the human and plant worlds.
You might be ahead of me on this one but if you’re not, let’s resolve to add some green things to our eco-friendly teaching studios.
Action step: Add at least 3 plants to your teaching space and take good care of them.
If this sort of thing interests you, my centralized page devoted to running a studio business has even more tips on organising your music teaching studio.
What else can we do to achieve a more environmentally-friendly teaching space?
Let’s not stop here! In the comments below, share your ideas for creating a more eco-friendly teaching studio. ♻