Pathways to Sustainability


Use the results of your Environmental Audit to set realistic targets and concentrate on areas that are most relevant to your school.  Most schools tackle one or two pathway audits at a time, but it will be a decision made by those who best understand the school, the Eco-Action Team.


If the Eco-Action Team isn't quite sure which pathway to take on first or next, checkout our Environmental Review Checklist. This checklist includes questions for each of the ten pathways and will provide teams needing added support with some initial data. This initial data can inform a team's decision when choosing a pathway to address.


Many of the pathways overlap or are closely related to each other. Energy, for example, is connected to Climate Change, and Healthy Living is connected to Sustainable Food. You may find that by making progress in one area, you are taking steps toward improving your performance in another.

Please note: the Energy Pathway must be addressed by every school applying for a Green Flag award.


Eco-Schools Biodiversity 

Investigating and increasing biodiversity at school and beyond
A wide diversity of species - animals, plants, and other living things - is the key to a healthy, functioning ecosystem on many scales, from the school grounds to the whole planet.


Climate Change Pathway

Climate Change
Incorporating climate change education into curriculum
Schools are joining the movement to solve this urgent environmental issue. They are reducing their "carbon footprints," and in the process, developing science, math, technology and social science skills.


Consumption and Waste Pathway

Consumption and Waste
Reducing, reusing, and recycling
A school can reduce its environmental impact by analyzing the full life cycle of the products it uses. Trimming consumption, reducing packaging and transport distance, and recycling as many items as possible all translate into smaller amounts of garbage being hauled away.


Energy Pathway

Addressing energy conservation
Schools are the largest energy consumers in many municipalities. But up to 30 percent of that energy is used inefficiently or unnecessarily. Schools can significantly cut energy use, resulting in financial savings and reduced environmental impact.



healthy living 

Healthy Living 
Promoting outdoor time, physical activity and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle
Time spent outdoors, physically active, and engaged in unstructured play is perhaps the best possible prescription to ensure a lifetime of good health.


Eco-Schools Healthy Schools 

Healthy Schools 
Addressing issues that impact human health in the school building and grounds
Eliminating toxic and hazardous materials, while maximizing elements that promote health, will improve the learning environment for students and staff.


Schoolyard Habitats®
Developing "green" grounds
Research has demonstrated that in all discipline areas, students who are given the opportunity to directly engage in outdoor education and experiential learning have been able to significantly increase their capacity for learning.


Sustainable Food pathways icon 

Sustainable Food 
Improving nutrition and food sustainability at school
Food choices have a big impact on both health and the environment. A campaign focused on food sustainability can help you make nutritious, fresh, local and whole foods a part of the culture of your school and community.


Transportation Pathway

Addressing school transportation
The Eco-Schools USA program aims to raise awareness of sustainable solutions - transportation that reduces fuel consumption, pollution and car use. Every school can change its travel footprint.


Water Pathway

Addressing water conservation
Basic water efficiency programs can reduce a school's water use by 30 percent or more. The Eco-Schools USA program can help schools improve irrigation methods, reduce water runoff, consume fresh water more efficiently, and reuse water to a greater extent.


Help & Advice on the Eco-Schools USA Pathways
There are many local and national organizations and curricular resources that can help schools address each of the pathways. Look for the Curriculum Connections and Resources sections on each pathway's main page to find out more.

Eco-Schools in the United States are constantly coming up with fantastic ideas to implement the pathways. If your school has a great strategy, why not share it with everyone on our Eco-Schools USA Facebook page?

Go to the Eco-Schools Facebook page Go to the Eco-Schools Twitter page Go to the Eco-Schools Flickr page Go to the Eco-Schools YouTube page go to the Eco-Schools Google Plus page Go to the Eco-Schools Pinterest page

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Join the online, self-paced, professional development course designed to accompany the Green STEM Guidebook. Learn to design your own Green STEM learning experiences!


The National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools USA Guide to Understanding COP21

This simple, two page information resource will help teachers better understand the importance
of COP21 and demonstrate how many of the Eco-Schools USA Pathways address climate change.
Learn more >>