Tips for Environmentally Friendly Schools from the San Diego TribuneJuly 20th, 2009
Tips to help make schools more environmentally friendly
2:00 a.m. July 11, 2009
In school, the three R's no longer refer just to reading, writing and arithmetic. Increasingly, it is also applies to reduce, reuse and recycle as many schools and colleges are looking for new ways to be more green. Interested in helping your kids' school become more environmentally friendly? Check out these tips from Deborah Moore, founder and executive director of the Bay Area-based Green Schools Initiative:
Create a Green Team: This team should involve everyone from the principal to the custodial staff to teachers to other parents and, most importantly, the students themselves. Come up with a vision statement, create goals and an action plan. You'll need to conduct an audit of the school to see what can and needs to be changed. Make sure to incorporate green practices into the school's curriculum, too.
Moore says there a variety of simple ways to green up a school, including:
Create a sustainable recycling program. You need to make sure you have the right bins and the right signage and have negotiated for proper pickup with the school's waste hauler. Moore says working with the custodial staff is key, as is engaging and educating the kids.
The biggest sources of waste for schools are paper and food. Ask teachers to change the margins on their printouts to .75 as that could save reams of paper. Also, make sure the default setting is double-sided on all copiers. When it comes to food, try starting a composting program and use the compost for a school garden.
Ask SDG&E for an energy audit to see how the school can reduce usage. Beyond turning off lights, make sure devices like printers and fax machines are turned off. Use power strips where possible because electronic devices can still suck up power even when turned off.
Use a combo devices like a scanner/fax/printer so you only have to power one device and not three. Switch out light bulbs to more energy efficient compact fluorescent lights. See if your school can turn the thermostat up or down a degree or two to save energy.
Indoor air quality
See if you can get your school to switch to cleaning supplies that are Green Seal certified. Sometimes those decisions are made at the district level, so you might need to direct your lobby efforts there. You can also donate green cleaners directly to your child's teacher.
For more information and tips, check out greenschools.net/.
– JENNIFER DAVIES
Jennifer Davies: (619) 293-1373;