There are two ways in which education has gone green: not only are campuses being built in a manner that is consistent with conservation and eco-friendly innovations, but educators are also doing their part to inform children about the impact they have on the Earth as a way to help them reduce their carbon footprint from the outset. As a parent, you can also play a role in helping to ensure that your child’s education is greener. By packing organic lunches, purchasing recycled paper products (notebooks and so on), and doing home tutoring on your own (rather than hiring a home tutor), you can easily cut back on the impact that your child’s education is having on the environment. But if you’re curious as to just what is going on in schools, here are a few of the trends that are taking over the education system.
1. Recycling programs. Nearly every school in the nation has taken the initiative to install recycling bins and educate kids about the importance of using them. With receptacles for glass, aluminum, and plastic in place, children have the opportunity to do their part with little effort. And many schools also encourage children to go to the recycling center (via field trip) as a way to help protect the Earth even as they earn some extra money for their school.
2. Conservation. There are many ways to conserve, and all of them are becoming more appealing with utility prices going up and the cost of products coming down. Schools that want to conserve energy may encourage the use of natural lighting (as in, the sun) whenever possible and install energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). They might also opt for low-flow toilets in restrooms, as well as motion-sensor faucets and recycled towels and tissue.
3. Local food. Anyone who has eaten lunch from the school cafeteria no doubt has not-so-fond memories of questionably-colored hot dogs and crusty mac-and-cheese. These days, however, things are improving on the food front. Many schools have listened to complaints from parents about the health level of their fare and begun contracting with local farms and co-ops to provide fresh fruits, vegetables, and even animal products. Kids get fresh, natural foods out of the deal, local businesses are supported (small farms often do less harm to the environment), and the pollution from shipping and storing frozen foods is nullified.
4. Science fairs. This venue has always been a forum for innovation, but in the past several years, more and more relevant science revolves around ways to reduce pollution and waste in manufacturing, transportation, energy, and so on. The students of today are working on solutions for tomorrow, and being raised and taught with an environmental consciousness will certainly color their choices when it comes to scientific advancement.
5. Green building. Not too many schools have yet gone this route, although there are many newly erected campuses that have embraced an eco-friendly attitude by building with local materials, incorporating sustainable sources of energy (solar, wind, water), including native and drought-resistant plants, and conserving and recycling whenever possible. Some are even starting to offer green transportation in the form of alternative-fuel shuttles or incentives for staff to purchase green vehicles. In short, they’re doing everything they can to ensure that the future of the planet is secure for the students they are currently educating.