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ECO- SCHOOLS: Creating a Greener, Healthier Future To Protect Our Kids
  • Conduct a school audit. Form a committee of parents, teachers and staff to inspect school grounds to uncover your school's possible environmental, health, and safety problems. The EPA website provides a comprehensive checklist that you can find at www.epa.gov/iaq/schools.
  • Instead of paper or Styrofoam cups for paint projects, use washable, reusable cups or bowls.
  • Create less waste by encouraging children, teachers and staff to use reusable containers in their lunches. Wash them and reuse for the next day. Plastic containers and water bottles are just some of the things that can be used again and again!
  • Also encourage the use fewer plastic bags in school lunches. If plastic sandwich and snack bags are used, they can be washed for re-use for tomorrow's lunch. Do not throw them away after a single use!
  • For writing practice, have students use wipe boards instead of paper.
  • Recycle all of your reusable containers when they finally crack.
  • Remind every teacher or administrator to bring a reusable mug to school for coffee, tea or other beverages.
  • Implement a "no idle" rule at school pickup areas. Parents should turn off their engines while waiting for children.
  • Consider refillable stamp pads for your art projects; they won�t need to be thrown away as often.
  • Teachers can take children on field trip to the local Farmers' Market. Children can learn early about the eco-friendly and healthy benefits of buying from local farmers' organic produce. Doing this leads to less transport and less carbon emissions.
  • If you don't already have recycling bins at your school, get one for every classroom!
  • Cut down on the use of paper tablecloths and paper towels during painting projects by using washable, reusable art mats.
  • Use non-toxic cleaners for indoor and outdoor cleaning. Toxic cleaners impact air quality and pose health risks to you and the children in your care. For detailed tips, strategies and information on "green cleaning", please visit Earlychildhood NEWS.
  • Plant trees and flowers on your school grounds. Involve students, staff and teachers for a tree-and-flower-planting party to beautify your school grounds and improve the quality of the air you breathe.
  • Create green checklists to log the tasks each class completes in order to reduce, recycle, and reuse. The Green Team provides a "Slash Trash Report", a worksheet that will help you organize your tasks. To download it, please visit: www.thegreenteam.org.
  • Large classroom packs of everyday supplies like crayons and markers help to reduce packaging waste and make for easy storage.
  • As educators, care givers and administrators; you should actively research ways to protect the environment. Keep on learning and teaching kids about being eco-friendly, incorporating these tips into curriculum.
For tips on choosing a committee, spreading the word about greening your school, and getting people involved, check out Green Schools: A Healthier Future at: Earlychildhood NEWS


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