When we talk about making our schools more eco-friendly, we are often talking about global ideas. We look at water use, electricity and more. But there are actually much more simple ways to create eco-friendly classrooms. And one of these ideas is to pack eco-friendly lunches for your kids. Here are suggestions for doing so:
1. Cut the waste. Don’t use the plastic bags and single-serve lunch items at the store.
2. Purchase a plastic container for each kid that has separate compartments. This helps with portion control since you have different compartments that allow for only a certain amount of food. It also helps you to speed up the lunch-making process since you can make it the night before and fill up each compartment.
3. You’ll actually save money by using a plastic or stainless steel container. While the lunch box may cost more up front, you’ll save money since you won’t be paying for prepackaged items and you won’t be using four to five baggies a day.
School buildings are actually the third biggest energy users of any of the commercial building types. They account for 10% of the energy that is used by non-residential buildings. The numbers are quite shocking. Every year, in the K-12 school systems, they spend $8 billion on energy and universities spend $6 billion on energy.
When students know more about energy conservation, they can take this into their own hands and feel more responsible for their schools and their energy saving plans. Learn about the Alliance’s Energy 2030 Plan that calls for increased energy productivity. It allows students to learn on their own how to be more productive with energy. As anyone in the educational world can explain, school is not just a time to sit at your school desks and get your work done. It’s also a time for exploration and learning of other sorts.
As their website explains, “The Alliance’s K-12 and higher education programs empower students to change the culture of their academic environment to one that embraces energy efficiency. Students lead no-cost behavior changes, building retrofits, events on green careers, and other initiatives that save energy within and beyond their school building. They also contribute to integrated demand side management where applicable. When students are literate in energy efficiency, they become the next generation energy efficiency leaders – not only in their schools, but also in their homes and communities.”
Sustainable Living is a Valuable Asset
Schools and other educational institutes are beginning to invest more time and effort in green living and recycling. Harvard Law, for example, launched its Green Living Program seven years ago in an effort to promote sustainable living in the college dorms. The program educates the residents about energy and water conservation, as well as recycling and waste reduction, while representatives also suggest infrastructure and policy adjustments that can improve conservation.
Other programs have been launched across the U.S. as well, including those which recycle old school furniture. New additions to schools often incorporate recycled materials, while classes and school policies help educate students about their own impact on the environment, and ways they too can contribute to and preserve our planet.
Green education should not be limited to elementary school children. In fact, teenagers and college students usually consume more energy and generate more waste than young children, and keeping them conscious and concerned about the environment is especially important.
Way2GoGreen Blog offers some green tips for college students:
One great way to get kids involved in green living and sustainability is by engaging them with fun, interesting activities. The Magic School Bus is a great children’s show that covers many scientific topics, including recycling and pollution. Next time your children head for the television, show them this instead!
Magic School Bus Holiday Special- Recycling
“They’re young, they’re green, they’re militant….”
Check this out- according to an article from The Observer, kids are re-educating their parents about the environment, recycling, waste reduction and sustainability!
Keep up the great work, schools!
As green living and energy conservation become more of a priority, schools and other large institutions are implementing new policies, equipment and supplies to preserve our planet. School cafeterias and other food service operations have many opportunities and options to explore.
Cafeteria tables and chairs can be made from recycled or biodegradable materials, and painted with environmentally-friendly paints or stains. Many operations have chosen to serve responsibly farmed or organic foods, as well as implement comprehensive recycling and composting programs to minimize total waste and avoid sending materials to landfills. Schools kitchens can also adjust policies and products to improve energy efficiency and reduce water use.
ChildrenoftheEarth.org offers green activities for children and teachers with the goal of “fostering a greater understanding, respect and appreciation for the natural world.”
Here are some ideas for green activities, art projects and adventures for parents and teachers alike to spruce up the classroom environment, classroom tables, etc.
Green is the New Crimson
It’s always encouraging to look to others for examples about creating green living programs. Whether you’re an elementary school teacher setting up your classroom desks for the year, or you’re a professor at a local university getting your podiums ready for this year’s lectures, there are always more ways that you could be encouraging recycling.
The Harvard Law School Green Living Program is certainly leading the way. They are in their 8 the moment as a peer-to-peer education program. They promote green living in the Harvard Law School dorms by connecting Green Living Representatives with other residents to teach them about energy and water conservation. They teach them, as well, about recycling and waste reduction and they sponsor all sorts of programs throughout the school year.
For instance, they had a recent program where the dorms competed to see which room could save the most energy over a given time period. They monitored the energy use of each room and announced the largest energy saver at the end of the program. Starting in 2011, the program made sure that there were compost centers available in every dorm and administrative building on the Harvard Law campus. This is another way that they encouraged more recycling and enabled people to do so with easy steps.
These are but a few of the many programs that the Harvard Law School Green Living Program has started. They are certainly a leader in the field of recycling and are one to look to as a model.