Greening your school carries a wealth of benefits; not only do you educate your students about the environment, why we should preserve it and how to do so, but creating a green school makes for a healthier school environment and saves on costs. Spending less on utility bills and materials will mean more money for cash-strapped schools.
Dealing with waste
Recycling can help to reduce the amount of waste that your school sends to the landfill. When you recycle large volumes of paper, glass and cans, you can get paid for your recycling efforts. Adding another source of income to your coffers while reducing your waste is an excellent way to go green.
Compost your vegetable waste and create a valuable resource for your own gardens. You can also provide parents with compost or donate compost to your local community garden.
Make your school as paper-free as possible and print on both sides when you need to make hard copies. Switching to electronics like tablets will carry high initial costs, but you will have an excellent return on investment as you will not have to buy books or print out notes.
Turn out lights when you are not using a room. Use motion-sensitive lights at night rather than leaving lights on for security reasons and try to reduce energy and water consumption wherever possible.
This is a great way to get a source of locally grown, carbon footprint-free food. If you avoid pesticides and use the compost you create from your vegetable waste, you can grow organic fruits and vegetables too. Community gardening can really teach students about healthy eating, nutrition and the biology of flora. They will be more enthusiastic about eating salads and vegetables if they have grown the produce themselves.
Use vinegar and water to clean windows and other surfaces. Vinegar is a great antibacterial and can be used to create great cleaning products (see more here) that are healthier too. When you use chemical cleaning products, they leave a residue which then releases harmful toxic fumes and makes your school’s indoor air unhealthy for students.
Use rain barrels on downspouts to collect valuable rain water which can then be used for cleaning and in your gardens. Reservoirs on rooftops can be utilized for flushing toilets too.
Ask students to opt for greener ways to get to school like walking or riding bikes. This will also help you to get your students moving. In inclement weather or for students who live far away, the bus, train or carpooling will help to reduce the carbon footprint of their commute.
Green your scene
Plant trees to mitigate carbon footprints, put plants inside classrooms to improve the air quality and create large outdoor gardens. When making a garden, use indigenous varieties of plants that are accustomed to the local conditions and require little additional care or watering. Avoid lawns by using lawn alternatives. These lawn alternatives will reduce the carbon footprint of moving and reduce the need for watering while providing lush, green ground covering. See a list of lawn alternatives here.