I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire
– Greta Thunberg
Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg’s call has mobilized a march worldwide to raise awareness at the decision levels.
The importance of Going Green
Schools are major consumers of energy, paper, food, water, cleaning products, and other resources that generate waste, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Schools have the potential to use resources efficiently, become producers of their own power, and serve as models of environmental sustainability for their communities. This potential, combined with their ability to teach the next generation and communities by example, makes schools strategic actors in the drive to transform the world’s energy and resource consumption from a destructive model towards more sustainable patterns of development.
From hands-on projects to personal responsibility, the projects, and concepts outlined in this guide take a community-based approach to learn about environmental issues.
Firstly, we might not be able to implement a school-wide recycling or composting program, but we can teach the principles of zero-waste within the domain of our own classroom. And while we may not be able to get the janitorial staff to swap out for greener cleaners, we can show kids how to make own eco-friendly cleaners from vinegar and water.
Greening the school doesn’t have to be about getting grants for solar panels and building a rain-water collection system. Those things are great, but it can also be as simple as opening the eyes of a child to the native plants just beyond the playground or helping a student calculate the carbon footprint of his trip to school. Whether we live in an urban, suburban, exurban, or rural location and no matter if we are public or private school employees, we can choose this call to arms. Regardless of budget or setting, there’s a lot every teacher can do to inspire his students to make the world a little greener.
Recycling paper and plastics, along with trying to reduce the usage of electricity and fossil fuels are a start, but there are many other steps — big and small — individuals can take to protect and preserve the planet. The school should involve a comprehensive resource on what it takes to live a green lifestyle. Going green is a mindset that involves the continual pursuit of knowledge regarding how to live life in an environmentally friendly and responsible way. In addition to big things that reduce people’s carbon footprint, individuals can adopt small, everyday practices and behaviors that help protect the environment and preserve natural resources for current and future generations.
How Schools can Go Green
Join the Dots –
Instilling a sense of connectedness to nature and the environment–be it a forest, field, or urban landscape–is essential to helping fledgling Tree Huggers care about the world around them. To teach the students about global issues such as climate change and endangered species, look to local issues such as recycling, storm-water runoff, or air pollution. Making it personal and connecting it to your community makes it real.
Going School Greenly –
Biking, walking, public transportation or the bus to school can all help reduce carbon emissions. Biking to school has even has health benefits and has been shown to be more important for kids than breakfast! Lead by example and try green transport. Discuss with students their experiences in getting to school more greenly. What was better? What was annoying?
Zero waste in classroom policy –
School-wide recycling is a brilliant move…but implementing can be tougher than teaching long division to a three-year-old. If the school isn’t recycling at-large, start a classroom-wide policy of “zero-waste.” Set up recycling bins (teachers, students, and parents can volunteer to be responsible for removal), audit how much rubbish is created in a day. Sorting trash will help kids understand how much waste they are creating in a day, and where it’s all coming from. Challenge kids to pack zero-waste lunches by using reusable bottles, containers, and satchels, rather than disposable ones. Competing with another classroom to see who can reduce their waste output most is a great way to create healthy competition and less waste.
Grow garden –
Creating a garden or “backyard habitat” on school grounds is great for experiential learning. Growing food and native plants can really help kids connect with the world just outside their door, as well as the food chain and sustainable agriculture. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization offer lots of great advice. If a garden is not happening, a romp around school grounds will help teach about natural wonders. Even in urban settings, trees, grasses, and wildlife abound. Get kids to pay attention to the environment that is all around them.
It’s important to create an open atmosphere in the classroom for students to learn about and discuss all of the important issues facing our planet. Even elementary school students have a great interest in energy and where it comes from, recycling, and all kinds of environmental topics. Open discussions will bring out enthusiastic ideas as well as a better understanding of what we can all do to help save our planet.
Check out Vidyasagar Preschool, Koramangala!