At the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, we believe that all students should have the opportunity to attend schools that sustain the world they live in. As Earth Day approaches, we want to remind communities to look to their local schools as a space to promote a thriving, healthy planet.
Green Apple Day of Service offers a variety of project ideas for school communities to come together and reduce their impact on the environment, support health and wellness in schools and advance environmental and sustainability literacy. These projects also give students and teachers the tools they need to engage in civic participation and leave their communities—and the world—better off for those who come after them.
Here are some examples of projects that can help your school community have a lasting, positive impact on our planet.
- Good for the environment: Gardens teach students about the important role of land in our lives, such as providing wildlife refuge and habitat, growing vegetables and fruit for instruction or cafeteria use and providing places to divert water from storm sewers.
- Good for students: You can use planting a garden with students as an opportunity to teach lessons about plant cycles and the environment, as well as teamwork, responsibility and nutritional values.
- Good for the environment: Conventional cleaning supplies have been found to pollute indoor air with toxins such as lead, asbestos, chemical fumes, pesticides and molds. The transition to a green cleaning program can both prevent this air pollution and decrease a school’s carbon emissions footprint by using energy-efficient cleaning equipment.
- Good for students: This project is an example of intergenerational engagement in sustainability, with faculty, students and custodians alike benefiting from increased productivity in an indoor environment free from environmental pollutants and irritants. Whether it is training new custodial workers, expanding on what they already know, adopting new processes or testing new technologies, success is dependent upon custodians receiving appropriate training.
- Good for the environment: Signs and murals are great and public ways for a school to show its commitment to healthy and sustainable learning environments. Signs remind people to turn off lights or faucets, resulting in better operational practices and more savings for your local schools and campuses. A mural is a larger-scale way to remind visitors and the school community about the school’s values.
- Good for students: These communication strategies impact the education and behavior of all students, and all people, that walk the halls of your school.