Schools challenge everyone to learn new things about the world around them, which includes the environment. If schools focus on green initiatives, kids of all ages can learn how to go green before they ever look into buying a smart car or volunteering with environmental community programs.
This guide explains everything administrators and parents need to know about bringing sustainability to schools.
By Jane Marsh
1. Start Recycling Programs
Recycling is an easy eco-friendly practice that kids of all ages can do. Elementary schools can set up recycling bins in the cafeteria and post pictures of which materials go in which bins for easy use. A poster next to the recycling bin could explain why reusing materials helps the planet and motivate students to recycle waste after they get out of school.
2. Invest in Library Books
Young students head to the library to discover their next favorite stories. School administrators can invest in educational books that also teach them about the environment. The picture books could explain how pollution harms ocean life or why the bees need help to pollinate plants.
Connecting with characters will help kids take environmentalism to heart and remember why efforts like recycling matter.
3. Educate About Energy Usage
Principals and administrators may not realize that the average school uses 25% more energy than it needs, adding to environmental pollution caused by power plants. Switching to green energy through resources like solar panels and geothermal pumps would allow operations to continue without harming the planet.
Other strategies like automatic light switches and adjusting school-wide thermostat settings could also reduce short-term energy usage while administrators investigate long-term options.
4. Address Food Waste
Kids don’t always finish their food, even if they’re hungry teenagers. Cafeteria workers might throw out leftovers because they have limited fridge space or strict regulations about meal preparation.
Educational board members should address food waste in schools by updating guidelines about keeping and storing food. They can also connect their school system with local food banks to donate excess ingredients to avoid wasting the natural resources that produced their food.
5. Incorporate Natural Materials
It isn’t easy to appreciate the planet when you don’t spend much time outside. Although kids have to spend most of their days in classrooms, they can still become personally attached to nature while they’re at school.
A quick renovation could incorporate natural materials into the school playground. Let kids climb over boulders or play at a water table that drains into a natural stream. They’ll form memories and make friends by interacting with the earth and learn to celebrate the environment because it makes life more fun.
Natural materials also develop fine motor skills by getting kids in touch with different textures and sensory activities. While they sift through sand or climb wooden structures, students will bond with the planet and appreciate it. They’ll remember fond afternoons on the playground or hanging out in school and want to minimize their carbon footprint even as they get older.
6. Support Reusable Items
Minimizing waste keeps trash out of landfills and reduces the greenhouse gases that waste emits as it breaks down. Schools can support reusable containers that students bring in their backpacks or store in their lockers to eliminate excess trash on the property.
Water fountains with built-in nozzles for refilling water bottles will make it easy for kids to bring water bottles from home. Plastic trays or plates in the cafeteria eliminate the need for styrofoam alternatives. Even metal cutlery that replaces plastic-wrapped forks or spoons will make schools more sustainable overnight.
Bring Sustainability to Schools
Students, parents, and school administrators can all help bring sustainability to schools with initiatives like these. Choose green energy sources and create strategic efforts that minimize the school’s waste to reduce the student body’s impact on the environment and teach kids to take care of the planet.