Green Projects for Students
6 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Living Green with Children
The ultimate goal of making schools eco-friendly is to get the children involved in projects that help build a greener community. If the school uses renewable energy, recycles, and composts food waste, it demonstrates green living in action to children, parents, and people in the wider community.
A range of projects is the ideal so that everyone in the school — from the youngest and most academically minded to the oldest and most practically minded — can be engaged and involved. Some ideas include:
Dig a vegetable plot: Devote spare land on school grounds to a vegetable plot. Students can grow organic vegetables to use in the school cafeteria or to donate to local food banks. In the process of planting, monitoring, and caring for an organic garden, students learn about organic production, local and seasonal food, and the link between the land and what ends up on their plates.
If funding is an issue, seek sponsorship from the local community. Garden centers may be interested in providing tools, seeds, and expert advice, for example, or community organizations may provide funds to buy fencing to protect the garden from rabbits and other wildlife eager to sample the produce.
Visit the local landfill site and recycling facility: Taking children to a landfill to see the reality of waste management can have a big impact on their habits. Incorporate the following activities in the landfill visit to get children involved and thinking about waste management:Credit: PhotoDisc/Getty ImagesSeeing where trash ends up can serve as a wake-up call to children.
Ask them to identify things that could have been reused, repaired, or recycled.
Explain how long it takes various items they see to decompose.
Explain how toxic chemicals have to be prevented from getting into the ground and local water supplies.
Discuss the various other options for getting rid of and reducing the waste to a minimum in the first place.
From the landfill site, go to a local recycling facility if you can, and show the children what happens to the items sorted and processed there.
Plant trees: If the school has no land of its own on which to grow trees, find a local park or playground open to the project. Don’t forget that part of the project is monitoring the growth and health of the trees, so choose a fast-growing species suitable for your environment.
Launch a green competition: Friendly competitions give children incentives to work, and green projects are an ideal opportunity to provide a little extra incentive for extra effort. The competition may be to find the students who come up with the best green project of the year or who write the best essays on a specific green issue, for example. Every aspect of the competition — including letting the kids and their parents know about it — should help to raise awareness about green living and green schools.
Prizes can come from you if you can afford them, or you may ask local green companies to donate either goods or funds for the prizes. It’s best if the prizes contribute to green living, too.