It sounds cliched, but I can’t believe it’s been a year since Green Options launched a year ago. I got involved on a whim, responding to a post on sustainablog, thinking, “What the heck? I’ve got nothing to lose by checking this out.” Little did I know how immersed I would get in not just the green blogosphere (and it can be very consuming), but also in environmental and sustainability education. What a great time to be in the green world! Awareness and options are truly growing exponentially right before our eyes.
What better lens to view that change through than environmental education? Despite No Child Left Behind’s (how can I put this delicately?) marginalization of non-core classes such as environmental education and fine arts, teachers and schools all over the country are finding ways to incorporate sustainability and the environment into their curriculum. The No Child Left Inside Act, designed to give support to environmental education is in committee in both the House and the Senate. Schools are creating gardens, whole foods programs in cafeterias, recycling programs, and worm bins. Districts are choosing to incorporate sustainability into school design and construct LEED-certified buildings, and California hosted the very first Green Schools Summit.
For me, this journey has been multifaceted. I’ve grown as a writer by facing deadlines and seeking new subject material. Writing about what I do in my own classroom has provided me with valuable reflection, which is a tool every teacher needs to have. Seeking out what others are doing in their own classrooms and what schools can do to lessen their own footprint has been inspiring and empowering.
I’ve also learned what my limits are as a writer and where my interests lie. Through perusing the green blogosphere (and watching it blow up over the past year), I realized how much I’m interested in how our food choices impact our environment. I love reading about the politics of food, perusing farmers markets, and cooking incredibly satisfying dishes using fresh, local ingredients. I’ve also become really interested in the DIY/reusing scene, figuring out ways to avoid buying something when I could just make or find a suitable substitute. Although my heart and my passion lies in education, I realized I’m not quite ready to dig deeply into green parenting issues.
What I’m most thankful for is being a part of the “green scene” just before it exploded, right when it was reaching the tipping point. When I first started teaching sustainability (pre-Inconvenient Truth), my kids were completely oblivious to the idea of climate change or sustainable living.
Now, just a few short years later, the vast majority of them come in with some background knowledge of sustainability concepts. Watching the movement blossom has allowed me to be more informed than the average citizen and consumer, and has helped me develop a sense of green literacy–the ability to distinguish between hollow claims of consciousness and effective sustainable practices. I’m able to see through much of the hype, and, if I’m confused, I know someone at Green Options will be able to help me evaluate companies, politicians, products and programs for truly sustainable alternatives. As a person that seeks to live her life as consciously as possible, that’s reassuring.
[This post was written by Kelli Best-Oliver]