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Benefits of an eco-friendly school

If you've landed on this page, you're most likely a parent or a teacher who would like your children to study in a greener environment. That's a great idea. Our kids spend at least 6 hours a day, 180 days a year, at school. Their physical classrooms, the books they use, the heating vents in the school, the water in the faucets, and even the food being served in the lunchroom can all have a big impact on the health of your child. There have even been good studies showing that greener schools boost test scores. Helping your local school with their efforts to go green is worth your time and energy and will set a wonderful example for your children.

So how do you begin the task? For most schools, the work is a combination of efforts that you can make with your own child (for example, encouraging him not to waste paper) and bigger efforts that you can mobilize other parents around (like planting a kitchen garden on school grounds to grow part of the cafeteria offerings). Keep reading for a practical list of tips to green your school from our parenting blogger Jenn Savedge.

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Ways to green your school

Start a green team: Help your child join forces with other eco-savvy students to form a Green Team that evaluates the school’s environmental programs and brainstorms innovative ways to improve them. Green Team members can initiate a school recycling program, present environmental education workshops in other classrooms, or lobby the school board to replace existing light bulbs with energy-saving CFLs. Check out MNN's Texas Student Correspondent's post on how his state's Association of Student Council is leading the change.

Skip the supplies: Before you head to the store to buy new pencils, notepads, and binders for school, check to see what’s hiding in your desk drawer from last year. Borrow or rent equipment (like musical instruments or sports gear) that your child will only use a few times.

Ban bus idling: If your child rides a bus to school each day, he may be exposed to dangerous levels of pollution. Check out this post on the dangers of bus ilding and make sure your school has a policy in place to ban it.

Go paperless: Encourage your child as well as teachers and other school staff to go paperless whenever possible at school. Ask teachers if they will accept assignments turned in via email or on disk instead of on paper. School announcements and meeting minutes could be distributed via email. Daily lunch menus could be printed on a chalk or dry erase board.

Clean up: Does your school use a bucket load of chemical cleaners to clean and disinfect classrooms? If so, ask them to make a switch to eco-friendly cleaners that are better for the environment and non-toxic for the students, teachers, secretaries, and administrators, that spend their day there. Order the free Green Clean Schools guide from the Healthy Schools Campaign and hand it over to your school administrator.

For more: Read Jenn Savedge's post, '5 MORE ways to green your school.'

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