No Paper Day

Plan and participate in a school day using non-paper alternatives.

  • Grade Level: K-3
  • Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Language Arts
  • Suggested Time: 2 class periods, plus the No Paper Day


Poster boards and markers or crayons, chalk/white board, dry erase boards with erasers and refillable markers (optional), classroom laptop set (optional), a few sheets of scrap paper for signs, and paper recycling bins.

National Standards


  • Organisms and their environments.
  • Properties of earth materials.
  • Communicate a problem, design, and solution.
  • Types of resources.
  • Changes in environments.
  • Science and technology in local challenges.

Social Studies:

  • Scarcity.
  • Environment and society.

Language Arts:

  • Communication skills.

Ohio 2010 Standards


  • Objects and materials can be sorted and described by their properties. (K)
  • Properties of objects and materials change. (1)
  • Living things have basic needs, which are met by obtaining materials from the physical environment. (1)
  • Living things cause changes on Earth. (2)
  • Some of Earth’s resources are limited. (3)

Social Studies:

  • Individuals have shared responsibilities toward the achievement of common goals in homes, schools and communities. (K)
  • Families interact with the physical environment differently in different times and places. (1)
  • Human activities alter the physical environment, both positively and negatively. (2)
  • Evidence of human modification of the environment can be observed in the local community. (3)
  • Individuals make the community a better place by solving problems in a way that promotes the common good. (3)

Language Arts:

  • Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups. (K-2).
  • Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. (3)


The student will be able to:

  • Explain the need to reduce paper use.
  • Identify ways to reduce paper use.
  • Create a poster to inform others about paper use, environmental effects, and paper saving strategies.
  • Plan and advertise a school-wide No Paper Day, including a paper recycling drive.

Teacher Preparation

  • Gain support from the building principal and other staff to hold a No Paper Day.


  • Ask students to brainstorm on the board all the ways that they use paper at school and at home (create two columns).
  • Ask students how the 3 “R’s” can be used to save paper.
  • Inform students that they will be sponsoring a No Paper Day for the whole school, which will combine reducing, reusing, and recycling strategies.


  • Ask students why it is important to save paper. Help them to understand that paper comes from trees. New trees can be planted, but it takes a long time for them to grow. Trees help clean the air we breathe, so if we don’t have enough trees, we won’t have enough clean air.
  • Ask students to use the “three Rs” to list ways to save paper. They may write their ideas on the board. Ideas may include using both sides of paper, using computers (email, scanning, electronic documents) instead of paper, printing on both sides of paper, using scrap paper, buying recycled paper, using thinner toilet paper, using less paper plates, napkins, and paper towels, and recycling paper and cardboard.
  • Go through the following tips for the No Paper Day:
  • Use no new paper, only scrap paper (already been put in the recycle bin).
  • Encourage students to bring lunches in reusable, non-paper lunch bags.
  • Art teachers should use non-paper mediums, preferably re-usable mediums such as canvas or clay.
  • Use paper alternatives such as the chalkboard, laptops (students may email teachers work), or individual whiteboards with refillable dry-erase markers to do classroom work.
  • Obtain permissions to unplug copiers and printers for the day, and create signs from scrap paper to explain the reason.
  • Identify exceptions for the No Paper Day (such as toilet paper, tissues, and cafeteria napkins).
  • Plan the No Paper Day campaign. Break students into small groups and assign one of the following activities to each group (choose those appropriate for your class):
  • Create posters advertising No Paper Day, including a paper recycling drive. Encourage students to bring lunches in a reusable lunch bag, and to bring paper from home for recycling collection.
  • Create a poster about ways to save paper and why it’s important. Students should present to the class and other classes if possible.
  • Write a letter using a computer word processing program, announcing and explaining No Paper Day to staff members. Type and email the letter to the staff listserv and ask staff to advertise No Paper Day to their students.
  • Write a PA announcement advertising No Paper Day, including the paper recycling drive. Students from the group may take turns reading the announcement on different days leading up to the No Paper Day, if possible.
  • Create signs to post on printers and copiers explaining why they are turned off during No Paper Day.
  • Hold the No Paper Day, including the paper recycling drive.


  • Students may start a classroom scrap paper bin if one does not already exist.
  • The Energy Savings Patrol may add paper recycling to their patrol. Students may look to see whether paper is thrown in garbage cans or recycling bins.
  • The teacher may contact a local newspaper or news station and invite them to cover the No Paper Day.
  • Students may create a plan for saving paper at home and present it to their families. They may hold a No Paper Day at home by turning off printers, using cloth napkins, purchasing recycled toilet paper, using only scrap paper for writing, etc.


  • Review the lesson and congratulate students on the success of No Paper Day.
  • Ask students to identify ways to save paper they could continue on a more permanent basis. Write the plan on the board and ask students to sign their names as a pledge to continue saving paper. Encourage students to be a spokesperson for ongoing paper-saving practices in their other classes.
Posted in K-3, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies.