NOVEMBER 2008 NEWSLETTER
THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO
We're grateful this month to be able to bring you news of the exciting progress so many are making in greening our state's schools. It's not an easy time for schools and families in California, which makes it all the more rewarding that people are working hard to build a better future for our schools and our children. Many administrators are finding that going green saves money, which helps now more than ever. In this issue, we focus on raising money for your school in earth-friendly ways; a school's steps to reduce food waste; updates on green cleaning and green chemistry; a music CD about biomimicry, and more. Let us know what your school is working on! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with announcements, ideas for stories, and feedback. To support our efforts, go to our Donate Now page -- every donation makes a difference.
Free web seminar and 1-day passes to California Green Schools Summit below...
Thank you for making schools healthier places to learn.
NEW TOOL: "A Musical Celebration of Nature’s Genius"
The Biomimicry Institute is introducing an educational CD - Ask the Planet - with music and lyrics designed to reconnect children to nature, create a sense of awe for the environment and teach them about the concept of biomimicry.
What is biomimicry? It’s a discipline focused on developing sustainable technologies inspired by ideas from Nature to solve human problems. Nature has devised ingenious solutions for myriad problems, and so can people. For example, if a paint company seeks a way to create a washable wall paint, the company might turn to research that shows what structures or processes in a leaf’s surface work to repel water, dirt, and other substances - without harsh chemicals.
Children need positive solutions and realistic tools, such as biomimicry, to address the environmental challenges they will face as they grow up. This album just might help inspire them to make a difference.
Available in January, the album costs $14.98, plus shipping and handling. The Biomimicry Institute is also offering free teaching guides that are directly linked to each song on theAsk the Planet CD.
NEWS: Progress! Arnold Signs Green Chemistry Bills
In May we reported that the state of California had launched a Green Chemistry Initiative to study how to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals in our products and the environment. We’re pleased to announce that California achieved another environmental first in September when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly and Senate bills that will move our state forward on the path toward a comprehensive green chemistry program. AB 1879 will revolutionize the way California deals with potentially toxic chemicals, by mandating a science-based, comprehensive approach to evaluating and regulating chemicals. SB 509 will create an online database, the Toxics Information Clearinghouse, to educate consumers about the toxicity and hazards of thousands of chemicals used in California every day. While this is a step forward, these laws will require active citizen involvement to ensure that they are implemented as intended and not sidetracked by industry.
To read more about the specifics of the bills and their impacts, go to:
Environment California Overview of Green Chemistry
REPORT: Vermont Kids Still Vulnerable at School
As students settle back into school, a law designed to protect their health in the classroom received a failing grade on the first report card for Act 125 (Vermont state legislation). Act 125 was charged with reducing environmental health hazards in schools through the creation of a voluntary program called “Envision: Promoting Healthy School Environments.” According to the report card released by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), Act 125 has failed to protect the majority of Vermont’s children and school personnel from indoor air pollution.
Under Act 125, the State was required to create a model school environmental health plan and award environmental health certificates to schools that voluntarily excelled in improving indoor air quality. Passed by the Legislature in 2000, Act 125 established a goal of having at least 50% of schools qualify for an environmental health certificate by January 2005. Only 7% of schools had received a certificate by the end of 2006.
VPIRG recommends that Vermont turn to new opportunities and solutions for creating healthy learning environments including: 1) implementing a comprehensive healthy schools program; 2) requiring schools to purchase environmentally preferable cleaning products; and 3) eliminating high-risk pesticides and establishing strong integrated pest management programs at schools. To read the full report, go to:
UPDATE ON GREEN CLEANING: Green Seal announces new standard for cleaners
Cleaning products typically used in schools contain carcinogens, reproductive toxins, neurotoxins, and chemicals that cause asthma. Custodians and teachers suffer from asthma at much higher rates than the general working population, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The rates are attributed, in part, to exposure to cleaning products. In California, nearly a million children have asthma, which is the main cause of hospitalization for children under 15, and is the primary cause of school absenteeism from a chronic illness. Cleaning chemicals are also routinely washed down the drain where they find their way into drinking water, lakes and streams, adversely affecting plant and animal life, and threatening public health.
To help schools make healthy choices about products, there are organizations like Green Seal and EcoLogo. Green Seal has recently released updated standards for green cleaners. In the absence of government regulation for green products, Green Seal provides independent third-party certification for green cleaners – sort of like the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” This means that Green Seal standards represent a leadership standard; are created independent of manufacturers or government regulators through a transparent stakeholder process; and are published and available to the public.
These standards, referred to as “GS 37,” are voluntary, and are not required by government. Such standards make it possible for schools to more easily find products that are "green" without having to get into the business of chemical analysis. According to Green Seal, “The standard is now more protective of vulnerable populations and reflects advancements made by industry since the last update of the standard.” The National Collaborative Work Group on Green Cleaning and Chemical Policy Reform in Schools - of which Green Schools Initiative is a member - has worked to help improve Green Seal's GS 37 criteria for certifying institutional/industrial cleaning products as "green" and "healthy."
The group commends Green Seal “for its extraordinary efforts that engaged hundreds of concerned stakeholders, as well as the public, and various science advisers in a work plan that [took] more than 20 months of concerted effort.” The Work Group is especially pleased that asthmagens (chemicals that cause asthma) and phthalates will be eliminated from GS 37 products. The new standard tightens restrictions for VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and pH levels while continuing to prohibit carcinogens and reproductive toxins.
To learn more about the new standards, click here: New Green Seal Standards. For information on green cleaners for your school, see the Green Schools Initiative’s new Buying Guide, which includes a link to information on Green Seal approved cleaning products. Visit New American Dream for Conscious Consumer Guides.
California Green Schools Summit & Exposition
Date: December 8-10, 2008
Location: Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA
This is the nation's largest green schools event and trade show, with a program and workshops that cover every aspect of creating healthy, sustainable schools – from green building and facilities management to developing green curriculum. The 2007 event was a huge success. This year, keynote speakers are Hunter Lovins, Co-founder of Rocky Mountain Institute, Time Magazine Hero of the Planet, and author of Natural Capitalism and Terry Tamminem - ship captain, sheep rancher, founder of Santa Monica Baykeeper, Secretary of Cal-EPA, and author of Lives Per Gallon. GREEN SCHOOLS INITIATIVE will be giving several workshops. Some one-day passes available from Green Schools Initiative - contact us at email@example.com if you are interested.
Costs and Benefits of High Performance Schools,
Featuring Greg Kats
Date: Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Time: 10:00 AM PST
Join CHPS and Greg Kats on Tuesday, December 2nd for the virtual annual meeting of the Coalition for Healthier Schools. Participants will take part in a conference call presentation from Greg Kats, a leading expert in the costs and benefits of high performance schools.
The call will be hosted by Charles Eley, Executive Director of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), and is part of the Coalition for Healthier Schools 2008 Annual Meeting. Mr. Kats will discuss the financial benefits conclusions of his 2003 study on green schools. Energy, waste and water savings as well as emissions reductions will be reviewed as direct benefits that significantly exceed the marginal cost of building high performance schools.
The presentation will consist of a fifteen-minute introduction on CHPS, a forty-five minute slide presentation, and will be followed by a half-hour question and answer session.”