Sustainability in Schools

As time goes on, we hear more information about climate change and its consequences which push companies and countries to gradually begin changing their systems to be more eco-friendly. There are about 56.4 million students in the U.S. alone that regularly attend school. This large number affects our climate more than we think! Therefore, schools too are expected to make changes in their consumption, materials, and more.


Unfortunately, many schools are doing the bare minimum when it comes to being economically involved. 2 weeks ago, I saw a college student’s tweet which mentioned her seeing her school’s clean-up staff mixing recyclables and trash in the school’s dumpsters. So do our schools really participate in working towards a better future as they claim?

 

What can we, as students, do to improve our environment?

There are many ways to improve the environment around us, here are some ways you and your school can become more sustainable:



Walking, Biking, Carpooling or Public Transportation


If you are able to walk or bike to school, why wouldn't you? It's a great way to enjoy the outdoors, socialize with your friends, and lower your carbon footprint. However, if you aren't able to, you can use public transportation or carpool rather than driving alone to aid in carbon reduction. The smallest action can make the biggest impact, never think that you are powerless to contribute or create change.



Turn off electricity


When you are done using a device, turn it off to save power so you don’t have to charge it as much. This counts with lights too. Lights aren't as necessary when the sun is up so turn off the lights, open the curtains and let that natural light in.



Compost


Composting has various natural benefits. Composting is basically taking your scraps or any leftover food that you will not eat and putting it in a pile or in a bin outside. The nutrients from the decomposing food aids in making the soil full of nutrients. After lunch, food scraps usually get thrown away, so, creating a compost pile in your school’s garden would be beneficial to the soil there.



Recycle


Develop a recycling program at your school! There are many ways that you can do this, but the most effective is by meeting either with the administration at your school or by attending a school board meeting and vocalizing your concerns with a group of at least 3 people. You must have more than 2 people in order for them to actually care about the issue and have them record it.



Solar Panels


Some schools have the capability to put solar panels on their roofs in order to be more efficient with their energy and budget. It is becoming more common among schools in Asia and some school districts in the U.S. have started changing from non-renewable energy to solar panels for their electricity.



Eco-friendly products


Change products that are very detrimental to the environment to sustainable and compostable products. This will not only help the environment but students with asthma and allergies as the ingredients in sustainable products are mostly organic.




AC/Heating


On warm days, open the windows in the morning for the fresh, chilly air to enter the classroom. Close the doors after you leave a classroom to keep the cool/warm air inside.



Environmental Clubs


Working with people on ways to improve sustainability in your school is very important. You can persuade your school to make environmentally friendly choices, organize clean-ups, put up posters and more. Additionally, in these clubs you can create fundraisers for developing countries like Guinea and Bangladesh. These foreign governments sometimes aren't able to supply schools resources, let alone use renewable energy. So, support from developed countries and charities would be very beneficial to globally create sustainable schoolings. Nonetheless, something is better than nothing!



Educate


One of the most important ways to change the world into a more sustainable place is to educate our youth about the current state of our environment. Kids are our future. Thanks to social media, many of those in the young demographic are being educated about climate crises which should be further discussed in schools. Discussing the crises and ways to improve the state of our environment will help children learn sustainable habits. Many K-12 schools teach students about the environment and climate change but don't go in-depth about it beyond recycling. Students should be taught more on how to speak up and act upon our damaging lifestyles. Sustainability should be a frequently seen unit in school curriculums, now more than ever.



 

In sum, all of these end up with one common solution, our governments. If our governments don't change their mindset and their systems, our world will continue to be in danger. We are obligated, if we are able to, to support and vote for leaders that care about the climate and speak up about what we believe in with no hesitation.


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