Celebrated annually on April 22, Earth Day was launched in 1970 in the form of protests against 150 years of industrial revolution and as a result, President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. Now comprising over a billion people from 192 countries, Earth Day features campaigns ranging from green cities to endangered species, reforestation and climate change.
There is also an educational initiative which is committed to greening every school in the United States within a generation. Green schools includes five key pillars – facilities, food, schoolyard & outdoors, transportation and environmental education – and has various focus areas including air quality, public school funding, increasing jobs, environmentally-friendly products, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, teaching opportunities, classroom acoustics and water quality.
There are several local organisations committed to sustainable practices in the Australian education system, including Eco-Schools Australia, Green Cross Australia and Sustainability in Schools. There has been progress in different ways and to help your school become more sustainable, we’ve come up with a few suggestions.
Turning parts of previously underutilised school grounds into veggie patches has been around for years now and continues to grow in popularity. It’s a great way to give students a sense of responsibility, learn about environmental impact and promote healthy eating.
There are several simple way to promote the preservation of our most important natural resource, which is especially prevalent for students at rural and remote schools where drought may have been an issue in the past. Placing ice-cream containers under water bubblers, which can then be used to water plants, is one such example.
A School Environmental Management Plan, or SEMP, is a strategy that outlines a school’s vision and goals. Including students in the process of suggesting priorities and targets is a great way to give them an emotional stake in the project and consequently, encourage them to participate.
With packed lunches, exercise books and an abundance of stationary, schools inevitably wind up with loads of rubbish. Establishing a three-bin system – landfill, recycling and compost – teaches students the importance of ethical waste management, while promoting rubbish-free lunch days is another option.