The endless parade of papers sent home, the individually wrapped snacks, the juice boxes at lunch, the idling of school busses, and, lest we forget, the possibility of toxic air: schools have a lot of areas where they could stand to go green.
If, like me, you are a parent looking for ways to take action and help your child’s school become more environmentally friendly, consider suggesting a lesson in waste reduction through involvement with National Green Week:
“During this week schools can participate in the nationwide waste reduction program (optional). They will simply encourage students to bring their snacks and drinks in reusable containers for the week and weigh their total classroom snack trash the week prior to and during National Green Week….
The objective of National Green Week is to empower children to become environmental stewards to protect our planets valuable resources. The program will also encourage families to consider healthy snack options and save money by buying in bulk and recycling. “
A program of the Green Education Foundation, National Green Week runs from February 2-6, but schools can select a different week to weigh in (up until April 13th). Waste reduction totals from all participating schools are then consolidated. And on April 22nd- Earth Day- the Foundation will announce the amount of trash diverted by children in schools, nationally. The goal is to divert more than two million pounds in just one week, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in trash removal.
I love this idea of empowering students, teachers and parents on a personal level and then showing them concrete results: the full impact of their choices on a national level. While I wish there was some way for all school trash to be tallied- paper, disposable plates and utensils, and so on- taking snack waste into consideration could prompt discussions of greening school lunches or banning bottled water. It could also generate interest in school or community-wide recycling and composting programs.
The first step toward any real change is awareness. Hopefully this program will promote awareness, not just of waste production and reduction, but of how small choices can contribute to greater collective impact, and just how easy those choices can be.