At your school
Throughout the school year, but especially at the start of a new year
WHOSE HELP IS REQUIRED
Mom, dad or other grown up (requires support from school leaders / teachers too)
HOW IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE
This activity will help to create a healthier, toxic-free classroom for you and your friends, as well as help teach the impact (and ease) of adopting simple "green" habits. It will also promote recycling / reusing school supplies, saving natural resources, and reducing air and water pollution. Finally, this program has the potential to save the school money through buying items such as liquid soap and recycled, unbleached paper towels in bulk, instead of hand sanitizers and wipes.
Everyday students across the country use school supplies that contain toxic chemicals. Meanwhile, from crayons to glue, there exist many "green" options. Implement some of these pollution solutions at your school and make green school supplies a part of every classroom.
Green school supplies such as:
- Recycled paper and notebooks
- Earth-friendly pens, pencils and markers
- Non-toxic glue
- Unbleached paper towels made from recycled paper
- Soy (or other earth-friendly) crayons
- Non-toxic surface cleaners
- Non-toxic soap (rather than hand sanitizer)
- Non-toxic wipes (or soap rather than wipes altogeth
Get started with the instructions provided. You can also visit Grades of Green to register your school as an official Grades of Green school. Once a member, you can access all of the Grades of Green activity descriptions, along with step-by-step instructions and downloads like those you see here. Contact Grades of Green at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
1. Talk to your principal or assistant principal to get support from your school to switch to greener school supplies.
2. Find out who orders the school supplies and make sure teachers' lists of requested supplies includes green school supplies. (Often the Parent/Teacher Association has parent volunteers who are in charge of working with staff on purchasing school supplies. If so, recruit these persons to help you to green the school supplies. You can also recruit volunteers by asking friends, parents and/or teachers to see who might be interested in making the school supplies greener.)
3. Meet with your volunteers to make a plan and divide responsibilities. Find out what is currently included in the standard school supply kits and on the teachers' lists. Figure out which of those items can be greened. For example:
- Can you switch to paper towels that are not bleached and are made from recycled content?
- Can you switch to non-toxic glues?
- Can you switch to eco-friendly pencils, pens, and markers?
- Can you switch to eco-friendly crayons, such as soy crayons?
- Can you switch from toxic surface cleaners to non-toxic surface cleaners?
- Can you eliminate hand sanitizers and instead encourage use of non-toxic soap and water?
- If not, can you at least switch to more eco-friendly hand sanitizers?
- Can you eliminate wipes, again encouraging the use of non-toxic soap and water?
- If wipes cannot be eliminated, can you at least switch to non-toxic wipes?
4. Once decisions have been made as to which school supplies can be greened at your school, meet with school leaders and/or teachers to explain the changes and the research that supports switching to such green school supplies.
5. Get other students involved by having them identify the green school supplies and writing or talking to the class about these classroom pollution solutions: that is, what are they made of and why do they help our environment and students’ health?
6. Get the teachers involved by setting up a contest to see which teacher can become the “Green Queen or King”, i.e., the teacher that promotes and uses the greenest school supplies.
7. Calculate your success by seeing how many classrooms and how many items you were able to "green." Celebrate your success in helping protect yourself, your friends and your planet!
This program would not necessarily cost any more and may save the school money as suggested above. You are basically switching out one product for a greener version (or eliminating the product altogether if there is no green alternative). In some cases, however, the green alternative may be more expensive than the toxic version. There may be ways to partner with a supply company that could donate green school supplies.
If you can't "green" everything at once - no worries! Build upon your success each year, greening more and more school supplies as time goes on. Remember, when it comes to our environment, every little bit makes a difference!