3 Ways Kids Can Green Their Schools
By Marygrace Taylor
Grown-ups arenít the only ones who can get a green thing going, says Tom Feegel, author of Green My Schools, a book that helps students encourage their teachers and parents to make planet-friendly changes—that also save schools money. "Kids care about these issues and are educated about the state of the environment and the economy, and they feel they have something to contribute," Feegel says. "Thereís no question that all day long students are saying Ďthis is my school, and I can change the way we do things.í " His three-step plan for kids:
1. Look around Itís easy to identify just by observing whether a school is using sources of renewable energy or more energy than necessary, says Feegel. Are lights or computers left on when they arenít in use? Are pencil sharpeners plugged in when no one needs them?
2. Find out how things currently work Your child doesnít need to go to the superintendent and ask for a copy of the electric bill (which would probably be a little intimidating anyway!). But she can talk to people whose job it is to monitor how much energy, water, fuel, and food her school uses. "Itís okay for kids to ask questions about resource management, and they should," Feegel says. For instance, she can ask a custodian whether all of the building lights get turned off at night, or find out from a cafeteria worker whether the school kitchen has low-flow sink faucets.
3. Find a solution and share it Say your child notices that the computers in the media center are left on after school. She can do some division to point out to her teacher that keeping computers on for 8 hours a day uses 1/3 the energy of keeping them on 24 hours a day. Or, she can gather up a few other kids (and some courage) and ask her teacher to help her set up a meeting with the principal to share what sheís found. "Schools already need more money for supplies, field trips, and uniforms. Here, kids are identifying an economic incentive that also helps the environment," says Feegel.