Tips and Hints for Making Your School More Environmentally Friendly

Background
Find Safer Cleaning Products
Energy Efficient Electronics
Lighting
Environmentally Friendly Food
Recycling

Background

Adopting environmentally friendly practices at your school can both benefit the world and be an educational experience. Areas where environmental performance can be readily improved include:

  • Cleaning
  • Energy-efficient electronics
  • Lighting
  • Cafeteria
  • Recycling

Find Safer Cleaning Products

One out of every three cleaning chemicals used to clean school buildings in the United States is known to cause human health or other environmental problems. As a result, the way schools clean and maintain their buildings can have a significant impact on the health of the students and the quality of the education they receive. Look for Green Seal and/or EcoLogo products as safer "green" cleaning alternatives.

Energy Efficient Electronics

Schools are making increasing use of computers in the classroom. Computers and computer monitors in the United States are responsible for the unnecessary production of millions of tons of greenhouse gases every year. How can schools enrich students' education without shortchanging the environment?

  • Look for products that meet credible environmental standards, such as EPEAT or Energy Star. Computers, printers, fax machines, and copiers should have an energy-saving "sleep" mode that kicks in automatically after a period of inactivity. Plus, less heat buildup and fewer operating hours means a longer lifespan for your electronics.
  • Connect electronics to power strips and switch them off at the end of the day.
  • Invest in Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) computer monitors as another great way to improve energy efficiency.
  • Recycle old or outdated electronics.

Lighting

A few simple changes can greatly reduce the consumption of energy by lighting in schools.

  • Switch all lights to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which are three to four times more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs. Try ordering in bulk and negotiating a competitively bid contract.
  • Motion sensors and timers ensure that lights are not wasting energy in an empty room.
  • Some schools have extended the switch to kids' homes by organizing CFL fundraisers.

Environmentally Friendly Food

Today's focus on healthy eating choices for kids doesn't stop with what's on the plate.

  • Students can be encouraged to bring their own bottles for water rather than buying bottled water or soda from a vending machine.
  • School cafeterias often use Styrofoam cups, plates, and plastic utensils. Biodegradable varieties are available when reusable silverware and plates are not practical.
  • Appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, toasters, and coffee makers, should have environmental certifications for energy efficiency.

Recycling

Like offices, schools produce a tremendous amount of paper waste. Discouraging single-sided printing and encouraging recycling can go a long way to alleviate waste. While some school districts have well-developed recycling programs, others have entered the green movement on the initiative of the students as part of environmental studies classes.

Other schools have begun recycling programs as a fundraising activity: recycling ink cartridges, cell phones, paper and electronics can be profitable without requiring anyone to buy anything.

Source: New American Dream

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