Help the Government of Canada organize its website!

Complete an anonymous 5-minute questionnaire. Start now.

Pollution Prevention Fact Sheets

Pollution Prevention and You at School

Pollution prevention, also known as P2, happens when people change their plans, practices and habits in order to reduce the generation of pollution and waste at the source, instead of trying to clean it up after the fact. Pollution prevention also includes activities that protect natural resources (i.e. trees, water) through conservation or more efficient use of resources.

The key to environmental sustainability is thinking globally and acting locally. Pollution prevention is about making smart choices–both in what we buy and in how we use products. It involves looking at the causes of waste and pollution and figuring out how to prevent them.


Due to the number of people in attendance and the many activities taking place throughout the day at a school, larger quantities and more types of waste are produced at schools than in homes. Students, administrative staff, teachers, janitors, and contractors all use energy, water, and even hazardous chemicals, throughout the school year. Therefore, schools are a great place to introduce pollution prevention (P2) ideas on how to reduce or eliminate pollution and waste, which can be harmful to humans and the environment and costly to school budgets.

Where is waste generated in schools?

  • Energy: used in lighting, office machines, heating, air conditioning, transportation
  • Hazardous chemicals: found in cleaning supplies, aerosol cans, paints, science labs (mercury), art classrooms, janitors' storerooms
  • Pesticides: used on school grounds, gyms, kitchens, locker rooms
  • Water: used in bathrooms, kitchens, locker rooms, sinks in classrooms, outdoors

How can your school prevent pollution?

All students, teachers, administrators, and janitors should ask themselves if there is a better way to do their job–a way that will not create waste. In other words, everyone at the school should adopt a "less is best" attitude.

Some ways that students, teachers, and school administrators can prevent pollution at school include the following:

  • Bike, walk, or share rides to and from school.
  • Request that drivers of school buses and cars turn off their engines while they wait to pick up or drop off students.
  • Use less toxic glues, paints, markers, and other materials.
  • Start a book exchange.
  • Collect unused school supplies at the end of the year for reuse next year.
  • Buy unbleached, recycled paper.
  • Organize a tree-planting event on school grounds, or organize a school-ground naturalization project to create opportunities for outdoor learning through hands–on experience.
  • Use both sides of paper.
  • Take a "litter-less" lunch to school, by using reusable containers and a re-usable lunch bag.
  • Use refillable pens, printer toners, and ribbon cartridges.
  • Turn off machines when they are not in use.
  • Organize a paper, glass, plastic or metal recycling project.
  • Eliminate the use of pesticides and chemicals on the school playing fields.
  • Encourage students to implement pollution prevention principles that they have learned at school in their homes.
  • Form a pollution prevention team.
  • Celebrate Environment Week and participate in a community event.

Want to know more?

Visit the Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse for additional sources of pollution prevention information.