Green Your Scene
Every small change we make in our schools makes a difference. It can be challenging to tackle the greening of a school, but remember that even simple alterations and new healthier habits have a big impact. And, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Do what works best with the resources you have and for the location and size of your school. MyHealthySchool.com includes success stories from around the country so that you can discover some thriving plans that may work for your school.
Do your research. There continues to be more and more online resources for learning about positive environmental policies and actions. In addition to the information you'll read on MyHealthySchool.com, the site presents a range of websites and companies for further assistance. There are also organizations that specialize in helping schools become eco friendly. The more you know, they better you'll be able to devise a plan for your school system.
Don't reinvent the wheel. Look to other schools for good ideas and see if they make sense for your district. Similarly, if something works for you, share your idea with others.
Don't assume. Don't assume the school district is "handling" the greening of your school. Check for compact fluorescent light bulbs, recycled paper, low-VOC paints and greener cleaners. If you don't see these basic products being used, there is a good chance that the big-ticket items like having a professional energy audit and making building improvements are not even a pale shade of green.
Walk through. We all race through our days and don't even notice some of the obvious changes we can make. Take a tour through the school over the course of a few days—observe and take notes on products that can be switched to nontoxic or areas where you can reduce, reuse and recycle.
Take suggestions. Ask students, teachers and parents what they think could improve the school's eco efforts.
Some specific ideas for change
Skimp my ride. Ask teachers to carpool, bike or walk to work. Offer incentives, such as special parking or longer lunches, to those that opt to do so.
Fundraise the green way. Still selling wrapping paper and waxy chocolates to raise money? There are many practical, green fundraisers to raise some green. Think outside the chocolate box.
Paper chase. Many parents prefer email communication to learn about school events and updates about their child's progress. Reduce the amount of paper generated by encouraging staff to use electronic communication to interact internally and with parents.
Host a community swap meet or garage sale. Promote community recycling by hosting an event where people in the neighborhood clean out their old toys and kids' clothes and sell or swap them for other gently used toys and clothes.
Flip, switch, swap. Use one side of the paper? Keep a box near the recycling bin or trashcan so the paper can be flipped and used on the other side. Switch off the lights. Have motion sensors installed. Use natural light in the classroom and offices when practical. Swap regular batteries for recycled ones, incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent lights and new ink cartridges for refillable options.