Not only are eco-friendly schools important for the well-being of our unfortunately endangered environment, but they’re also cost-friendly, especially when it comes to energy and water usage. It’s really a win-win situation.
Many schools have already taken action to make their school environment greener. If your school still needs improvement, it’s never too late to start taking part in the effort.
Eco-Friendly Schools: How To Get Started
Once you’ve decided to go green and make changes in your school, realizing your role and responsibility in this world, you’re already halfway there! Getting started may seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of simple ways you can make a difference and be part of the eco-friendly schools movement.
5 Simple Steps for a Greener School
Here are 5 simple steps to get started and make a difference!
1. Alternative Transportation
The first step and possibly easiest to start out with is to turn towards alternative transportation methods.
Promote Walking & Public Transit
Walking (which is also great exercise), or taking public transportation such as the bus or metro are great ways to start out. This can reduce the unnecessary usage of gasoline that harms our environment. Not only can you start making these changes yourself, but you can also promote these means of transportation to those around you.
Arrange Carpool Groups
If walking to school or taking the bus isn’t a realistic option for you, then there are still ways you can reduce fuel usage, such as arranging carpool groups. Driving to school with two other friends already means that there will be two less cars on the road.
Avoid Idling – Engines Off!
If you must take your car (or you’re the designated carpool driver), aim to avoid idling as much as possible. If you’re waiting for a friend, there’s no need for the engine to be on, even if it’s a little less convenient.
Use Better Fuel
Be smart about your fuel usage, whether it be the type of fuel you’re using, with biodiesel known to be more fuel-efficient, or how you’re using it. As discussed, avoiding idling is one way to start, but there are other techniques that can help save fuel too, such as maintaining a steady speed.
2. Conserve Energy
Saving energy wherever possible is another simple step you can utilize in your school to help combat climate change.
Use Eco-Friendly Lights
Not only should you be turning off lights in rooms that aren’t being used, but you can also aim to use eco-friendly lights that use less energy than standard lights. There are plenty of affordable varieties available on the market that eco-friendly schools are already using.
3. Change Up Cleaning Supplies
There are no shortage of organic, non-toxic cleaning products out there that can easily replace traditional cleaning supplies that run the risk of polluting the environment. Ask your school to consider making this change for a more eco-friendly school environment.
4. No to Plastic
Plastic is one of the most highly wasted products, and in order to establish an eco-friendly school, both students and staff members need to take a stand against it.
Reduce Plastic In The Cafeteria
The school cafeteria is likely where the largest amount of plastic is wasted. The cafeteria staff should be encouraged to avoid using plastic as much as possible and switch to using either regular dishes, or at least paper plates and utensils so that they can be recycled.
Get Rid Of Trays
While it might be difficult to avoid using disposable plates, we can still easily remove the usage of trays in the cafeteria. If you really think about it, they aren’t completely necessary and the water used to wash them every meal is quite wasteful.
Water bottle campaign
One of the best ways to reduce plastic waste is to start with water bottles. Many students throw out their plastic bottles on a daily basis, while instead they could bring a reusable one. Start a campaign on your school campus that encourages students to start bringing their own and reduce the usage of these wasteful disposable bottles.
5. It’s About Awareness
When it comes to eco-friendly schools, it all starts with awareness. Many of us are unaware of how wasteful we truly are, and how simple it is to make changes in our routines.
Place Reminders Around Campus
In order to remind our fellow students around campus, why not place friendly reminders in popular places? It’s much easier than sending out texts and trying to get people to listen to you in person. A sign is something that they are likely not to miss — just be sure not to print too much paper! Perhaps use a piece of recycled paper for these reminders.
Sign The Green Initiative
If you are truly committed to becoming part of the eco-friendly schools movement, then sign the green initiative, and get your school to take part in it too and make the commitment. But what is it exactly, and how do you begin?
The Green Schools Alliance: What Is It?
Many eco-friendly schools have already taken the Green Schools Alliance pledge, committing to making their schools as sustainable as possible, with the goal of reducing their carbon footprints by at least 30% in the next five years. The program currently has more than five million students taking part from across the globe.
Anyone and everyone is welcome to join the Green School Alliance (the pledge is online). However, this does not mean that you must take part in order to make a difference in your school. What the program does is empower students to take charge and make a difference, and also provides a variety of leadership programs for students to take part in.
Benefits Of Sustainable Schools
Sustainable schools not only have a reduced impact on the environment, but these eco-friendly schools also have an impact on the students themselves — and it’s been proven.
An impressive 98% of studies conducted by Stanford University have found that environmental education has a positive effect on students.
Students at eco-friendly schools with natural light in their classrooms were also found to have increased test scores, as well as improved progression in their mathematics and reading skills. It was also found that regardless of intellectual spectrum, all students were able to understand the concept of environmental education, and it even helps to increase student involvement in class discussions.
While a student’s success is also the success of the school, eco-friendly schools also benefit greatly in more direct ways, such as the fact that using less water and energy is inevitably very cost-efficient. In fact, eco-friendly schools are reported to save a shocking average of $100,000 annually just on these basic operational costs.
By having an eco-friendly school, it also helps to increase student attendance, as they are likely to be more healthy (the staff as well) in a more natural environment.
Eco-friendly schools have their obvious benefits for our dear planet. Such schools are created to promote eco-friendly ways of life and reduce our impact on the environment, by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Not only do they make a direct difference, but they also help educate future generations on the importance of environmental safety, and teaches them hands-on tools to make a difference.
What Else Can Eco-Friendly Schools Do?
There are endless steps that eco-friendly schools can take in order to make a difference — from the smallest, simplest efforts, to bigger, more wide-scale projects. Here are just 8 things that can be done:
1. Use Recycled Paper
Students love to use all kinds of fancy stationery, which is fine, but they should still be taught the importance of using more eco-friendly varieties, such as recycled paper for notepads and envelopes.
2. Get Creative
When it comes to being eco-friendly, there is no one way to go. It’s all about being creative, and seeing where and how you can make small changes in your daily life by reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Classroom decorations are a wonderful example of something that can be easily reduced by using eco-friendly materials instead.
3. Go Virtual
Most notes that students take tend to be with a pen and paper, but this can easily be reduced by taking notes online, and even sharing these materials between students, without any extra paper being wasted. An online test is also an idea to prevent paper waste.
4. Campus Gardens
In order to be an eco-friendly school, teachers could teach students how to create a garden and how to best maintain what they’ve planted, perhaps by even making a campus garden together.
5. Recycle With Triple Bins
Students should be taught in school that waste should be properly separated into three different bins. One for recyclable waste, another for hazardous waste, and a third for biodegradable garbage.
6. Make A Sustainability Club
Similar to how there are sports clubs on campus, there can also be a club devoted to sustainability. This type of club can offer students the chance to take part in a variety of green projects and allow them to work together in a social environment while making a difference.
Cleanup days are one of the many events that such clubs can help organize, where students are given different tasks around campus to help reduce waste and clean up garbage around not only campus, but also different areas in the neighborhood.
7. Eating Green
While schools can’t control what goes on at home, they can at least educate their students about the importance of eating green, and promote such a lifestyle on campus. Perhaps the cafeteria can have a vegetarian day once a week, and different green meal ideas can be taught in class.
8. Set Standards
School is where students spend most of their time, and where they learn many of their values. Standards need to be set in schools for minimal wastage, and taking part in these eco-friendly efforts should be the norm for all students. It all starts with education, even with the smallest things.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
Top Environmentally Friendly Campuses
Many universities across the globe have committed to taking on their responsibility of protecting our world, and have made sustainability on their campuses a core part of how the school functions on a day-to-day basis.
Some of the most eco-friendly schools in the United States include:
- Stanford University
- Colorado State University
- University of Connecticut
- Arizona State University
- Sterling College
- University of Washington
- Appalachian State University
- Chatham University
- Colby College
- American University
Save Money While Saving The World
While our first priority needs to be saving the world, it’s a serious plus to know that we can also save money while we’re at it by reducing our wastage. It may seem like an investment to start off with, but from a long-term perspective, eco-friendly schools save money. This money can be used elsewhere and invested in better educational tools for students.
Improved Student Performance
If money wasn’t already enough of a motivational factor, you’ll be pleased to know that student academic performance has also been found to improve in eco-friendly schools.
Endless studies have found that green schools lead to higher test scores — which should come as no surprise, since better air quality, natural light, and safer means of transportation all mean a healthier student.