Band Together, Aides!
In addition to your responsibility in the classroom, being a role model for recycling and good health can have a tremendous and positive impact on students. Teachers and aides know that kids are watching their every move from the lunchroom to recess, so consider planting the seeds of healthy habits in your school.
A lesson in greening. Teachers certainly have their plates full, so aides may have the opportunity to help build the environment into the lesson plans. If a family with two kids switched from brown paper bags to a reusable tote for lunches, how many bags are they saving per week? (Math). Bananas traveling from Ecuador to New York travel how many miles? (Math and geography). What job do worms have in the compost pile? (Science)
Be resourceful. There is a plethora of informative and educational websites about the environment and health. Use names you trust like Public Broadcasting Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Bike to work. If it’s possible, walk or bike to work. The kids may think you’re cool and want to follow in your carbon-light footsteps.
American (no) idle zone. Make sure the school has ‘no idle’ zones—meaning that parents must shut off their cars while they wait to pick up their children. It reduces emissions and gas consumption.
Show and till. Bring in a spokesperson from a local grower’s co-operative and let them teach students about organic food, local produce and nutrition.
Waste-free lunches. If some of your students bring a lunch, suggest that parents make some changes to reduce trash. Waste-reducing actions include buying food in bulk, using an aluminum beverage container, minimizing baggie usage and packing real silverware. Recommend alternatives to packaging with products such as the reusable sandwich wrap Wrap-n-Mat (www.wrap-n-mat.com) and recycled plastic thermal lunch bags (www.reusablebags.com). Here’s a letter to send home to parents.
Take that, germs! Inexpensive white vinegar kills germs and cleans without toxins. Check out the Vinegar Institute’s website for all of vinegar’s amazing uses.