Green Schools - Starting Your Green Team
Are you ready to start greening your school? Take the first step towards a more sustainable school and create a green team. Your Green Team can be a PTA committee or an advisory committee to your principal. Teachers, staff members, the principal, custodians, and parents are all candidates for membership.
The Green Team at our school has grown out of the PTA. It is currently a committee, and its two co-chairs (I am one of them) sit on the PTA board. Our principal is an avid environmentalist, so she also participates with our team. We have about seven parent members. We meet a few times a year to plan what kinds of events and services we will provide, then our co-chairs do most of the organizing, drawing on our members to help.
The team also delegates specific projects to different members of the committee, and individuals follow up on specific personal goals. For example, one of our members drafted a letter to the district suggesting “Meatless Mondays” for school menus, citing both health and environmental reasons. We sent it from our Green Team.
Some of the things that a Green Team can do for its school and PTA:
- Green Club for kids
- Vegetable and habitat gardens
- Fundraising for sustainability projects
- Walk- or Bike-to-school programs
- No-idling zones
- Recycle/compost at events and parties
- Parent education
- Local, district, and state advocacy
- Energy conservation
- Water conservation
- Waste diversion in the lunchroom
- Special environmental events – like Earth Day celebrations
Whew! I’m tired just reading all of that. Where do you start? I was asked this question by a school which is forming its Green Team this year. My suggestion was to find what measures have already been mandated by your school or district, then start there. For example, our district is committed to initiating green teams (check!), no-idling zones at schools, electronic or a reduction of paper in communications, decreased electrical and water usage, and the encouragement of walking and biking to school. Since you have to start somewhere, you might as well start where you have support and the backing of the district.
Searching for this information will also acquaint you with any resources or committees already in place in your district. Some schools may have access to free signage, recycling bins, or promotional items. Many have educational materials that you can download. You can also find out what recycling or reuse programs your district provides.
If you don’t have such a roadmap, or even if you do, it would be a good idea to meet with your principal to see what areas he or she would like to address first.
Something is better than nothing. It’s easy to become overwhelmed at all of the work to be done. I believe, however, that any steps towards sustainability in schools pay back doubly – with today’s waste reduction, water or energy conservation, and by providing a model for our children to follow throughout their lives.
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