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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Green Schools

In July of 2008, I became more aware of how education was going green. Colleges were doing greener things to attract students. Finally we are seeing the trickle down affect in the greening of K-12 schools.

We learn from the Green School in NYC that sustainability is the key to being green and at the school the students learn what this means. "To create balance in order to strengthen and support life for oneself, others, and future generations. We feel this is an important theme because when we look around we see that the way we live can be very destructive - both to the natural environment, and to people in our communities." The mission of the school, "The Green School is a progressive alternative high school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York that focuses on sustainability, the environment, science, social justice, experiential learning, and career planning." The Green School is part of a larger organization, community, social awareness base in the Green Charter Schools Network of about 200 school. In addition there is the Growing Up Green Charter School in Long Island City, NYC. Starting students out in elementary school to understand the importance of sustainability is far better than simply creating workers for the immediate workforce which is the current agenda of the government efforts like "Race to the Top." Green schools are for more important for our future. We've been down the path of creating workers and it has failed us badly.

"The 1st Annual Green Schools National Conference of educators, students, school and community leaders to promote environmental literacy and sustainable communities throughout the country." will happen in Minneapolis, MN October 24-26, 2010. The theme of this first conference is “Growing Green Schools Across America.” Since governmental leadership is behind this movement not only should the conference be exciting and successful, so should the creation of the schools.

There are a few things all schools could do immediately to start the "green movement." Create bags that fold up into very small packages with school name on it for all students when they shop before or after school to replace those hideous plastic bags all stores use. Distribute water bottles to all students to replace the ubiquitous plastic ones. New projects geared to make the school "greener" should be added each month. Every student should see "The Story of Stuff." One step at a time.

Not only can this be done, it is being done in a school in Hudson valley in New York. "
A staggering 11,880 plastic garbage bags were used at Crispell during the 180 days that school was in session. That computes to 66 bags used daily during the school's breakfast and lunch periods. But beginning in September, with students and staff working and learning together, Crispell has cut that number to 10-12 bags a day, which will reduce the total number used for the 2009-10 school year to around 2,000." This is impressive and important. Lots more is being done here and elsewhere.

Another aspect of being more "green" is eating better, especially in our schools. Obeisty is a major problem leading to diabetes and poor health which will cost us more. So if we improve our school cafeterias, the food choices, the education about the environment in our schools we can begin to make a better impact on our environment. It always starts with education.

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