No matter how you slice the organic tomato, joining together can make a big positive impact on the planet. Parents can play a pivotal role in making good things happen in the school and add valuable experience and skills to projects. This is one resource you don't want to waste.
How many parents does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent bulb? As many as you want; you just have to organize them. Enlist the help of parent volunteers to conduct a school building health, safety and energy audit. For more information on do-it-yourself or professional energy audits, visit the US Department of Energy or the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Green scene. Create an open forum or website survey where parents can submit ideas and share observations if they can't attend meetings. Provide many channels to enable everyone to participate. Schedule meetings and activities at different times so everyone can have a chance to get involved.
Green light, grow. Turn your PTA into an organic produce co-op or buying club. Your groups members should fulfill the minimum number of buyers requires by most clubs and co-ops. Find a local provider on www.coopdirectory.org.
Green alert. Parents want to know what's happening at the school, so it's important for the PTA to have current email addresses, home and cell phone numbers. Use email for all notices and newsletters.
No-waste meetings. Strive for meetings and events that have no impact (unless it's positive) on the environment. Email meeting agendas and minutes, use an overhead projector instead of handouts and provide access to filtered tap water and fruit. At the end of the meeting, compost the peels.
ID them. We label our luggage and our pets, but most children don't wear identification, which could help them in an emergency situation. Start a trend in your school by with IDonMe bracelets, which contain a tyvek insert to hold a child's information. The company also offers medical alert bracelets. These colorful IDs have elastic adjustable bands and can be worn around the wrist or ankle. Another company, Lovable Labels, provides tags for shoes, clothing and other personal items and enables schools to use their products as fundraisers.
Take a (fruit) stand. Is your school's lunchroom a junkyard? If sugary snacks are the norm, it's time to take a stand. The PTA can insist on healthy options like fresh fruit, while also removing the junk food to avoid temptation. If soda isn't available, students won't drink it at school.
Write your representative. PTAs should be knowledgeable about the government's education funding and programs. If you don't feel that the state or federal government is doing the right thing when it comes to your school's health and safety, start a letter-writing or email campaign to give your opinion.
PTA - Plant Trees Always. Shade in schoolyards is critical for protecting young skin from the sun.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers a free shade planning for schools guide which contains additional resources for sun safety education.
- Many other organizations (including the Shade Foundation provide lesson plans to help kids of all ages learn about sun safety.
- Shade for Schools provide detailed information on canopies and shelters which provide shade as well as fundraising kits to purchase them.
- The National Tree Trust has information and contests for kids, as well as a helpful guide for selecting trees (and a tree store).
Group tree hug. It can be hard for one person to realize the positive impact he or she has on the environment, so teaming up is the way to go for recycling drives. There are many opportunities for group recycling intiatives:
- Earth shoes—Nike's Reuse a Shoe program. Create a shoe mountain by collecting worn-out athletic shoes of any brand. Nike will recreate your treads into basketball and tennis courts as well as playgrounds for young people around the world.
- Collection Brigades—TerraCycle. Earn money for your school by collecting product packaging such as Clif Bar wrappers or Honest Tea drink pouches, which are made into hip accessories.
- Get some green—Collect saleable item from PTA members and have Internet-savvy parents (here's where your early-bird and night-owl parents come in handy) sell them on www.ebay.com or www.craigslist.org to raise money for school activities.