For anyone involved in education, that feeling that creeps into your stomach as August fades away cannot be ignored. While September can bring anxiety over the uncertainties of new classes, new teachers, and a new school year, it also brings with it a wave of energy, new beginnings, and great potential.
This September, I will embark on an exciting journey of my own. I will be teaching at a brand new elementary school for almost 800 students in the rapidly growing Town of Milton. This journey will undoubtedly bring its share of challenges and growing pains as we work to bring hundreds of families together to create a true community.
However, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of promise and potential. As we build a school culture from scratch, we have the opportunity to embed the principle of sustainability into all that we do. A chance to set the bar high in terms of our environmental expectations; a chance to set the bar low in terms of our ecological footprint.
So, as we plan for our new “green” community, I am reminded that there are many things that all students and families can do this year to help keep their own schools “green.” Most eco-friendly actions require only a simple shift in behaviour.
Tips For An Eco-Friendly Back to School
Reusable Water Bottles: Avoid all of the wasteful plastic and pollution that is created from single use plastic water bottles. The tap water in our schools is safe, tasty, and free! Help us turn our “throw-away” culture into a culture of conservation.
Active & Safe Routes to School: If you live close enough, consider allowing your child to walk or ride a bike to and from school. Practice the route with younger students, or arrange for a group of students to travel to school together. Help us reduce air pollution and keep our students healthy and active.
Swap, Don’t Shop: Back to school time creates mass consumer consumption. But does it have to be this way? Consider setting up a “swap” of school supplies, backpacks, kids clothing, etc. with friends and neighbours. Or visit your local reuse centre where you’ll find great items, save money, and reuse materials. Your teens will tell you the vintage look is “in” any way! Help us reduce our global footprint by cutting back consumption.
Waste-Free Lunches: Pack lunches and snacks into re-usable containers (or, teach your child how to do this). Our schools are doing an amazing job at diverting waste through our Blue Box and GreenCart systems, however, there is still a lot of plastic waste produced from snack foods. Help us reduce our waste.
Paper Usage: Consider implementing a “GOOS” (Good On One Side) bin in your home to ensure that paper is used on both sides. Check notebooks from last year to see if they contain empty pages and can be used again this year. Help us save trees.
Idle Free Zone: If you will be driving your child to and from school, please keep in mind that idling cars are harmful to the lungs of our students and our planet. Please turn off your car while waiting. Help us keep our air clean.
Your efforts do not go unnoticed. When we all make these slight shifts in our behaviour, the cumulative effect is profound. Thank you for your help and happy back to school!
About this guest blogger:
Erin Walsh is an intermediate teacher with the Halton District School Board. She works to engage her students and to create a sense of community through building organic school food gardens. Follow her on Twitter.