It takes plenty of paper, pencils, electricity and consumable products to run a successful school. Thankfully, the school setting is an easy place to find ways to conserve energy, recycle and learn methods to help the environment. By enlisting the help of faculty and students, schools can create an action team motivated to create programs and implement ideas to help the entire school become more environmentally conscious. This green team could be in charge of collecting recycling, monitoring lights and planning school-wide programming depending on the needs of the campus.
Start a Green Club
Find faculty on campus who are interested in sponsoring a club dedicated to environmentally friendly practices and learning. Combine that with a large pool of students who care about the environment and you'll have a task force dedicated to help the school be greener. This team could coordinate recycling pickup, help plan assemblies and issue good job certificates when they catch classes turning their lights off when not in use. The team could also help promote recycled art contests, adopt part of a roadway for trash pickup, hold fundraisers for worthy charities or participate in community action events.
Provide each classroom with a recycling bin as well as a trash can. Make all the recycling bins look alike with their color or labels so that students will know where to put their recycling. Encourage teachers to use the recycling bins as well. Arrange to empty recycling bins regularly. Some companies will issue a garbage bin for recycling, giving a portion of the profits from what is collected back to the school.
No-Paper Day or Week
Suggest or sponsor a no-paper week at the school or start out by having a no-paper day. Let teachers know far in advance to help them plan for their instructional strategies. Assignments could be taught using projectors and whiteboards. Students could complete work digitally, even turning assignments in through email. Offer awards for most creative lesson that didn't use paper. Host a door-decorating contest using recycled materials. Plan these activities around Earth Day.
Suggest facility improvements to the administration that may make being green simple. Although you may not have the power to buy and upgrade different systems in the school, you do have the ability to make upgrade suggestions to the administration. Suggest upgrades to automated hand dryers, automatic or timed faucets, lights and computer power-management systems. The North Thurston Public Schools in Washington State, for example, installed free computer power-management software in the district providing a savings of $45,000 a year on the district's 4,000 computers saving energy and money at the same time.
Start a Garden
To teach students about the importance of the environment and caring for it, start a school garden like the one at Rolling Hills Elementary School in San Diego. The school received a grant to help purchase garden materials. Students and volunteers take turns tending to the garden and learning about the process of growing food. Try giving each class or grade level its own plot or space to plant. Many lessons on science and math can be taught using a garden environment.
Host an Electronics Drive
Coordinate with local community leaders to host an electronics drive at the school. Allow community members to drop off old computers, cell phones and other electronics that should not be thrown away but need to be specially recycled. This exposes the community to the school's commitment to be a leader in education and action for the environment.
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