1. Learn about climate change science, impacts, and solutions.
Check out the many excellent resources that are available to learn about climate change including NWF's Climate Classroom website. Investigate what other schools and organizations are doing to educate their communities and take action on climate change.
2. Calculate your school's "carbon footprint."
Use the Eco-Schools USA Audit to explore how everyday actions at school contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Once you know your current footprint, you can devise strategies to decrease it and keep track of your progress.
3. Power down your classroom with WATT WATCHERS.
Start a watt watchers program at your school. Students patrol the halls reducing energy waste by turning off lights, computers and other devices and leaving tickets for those left on.
4. Become an ENERGY STAR school.
Energy-efficient schools can use just one-third as much energy as inefficient schools. Your school can partner with the ENERGY STAR for K-12 program to become more energy efficient, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save 30 percent or more on energy bills. Find out more about energy conservation at the Eco-Schools USA Energy Pathway.
5. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Reducing, reusing, and recycling at school and in the classroom conserves energy, minimizes pollution, and reduces greenhouse gases. Many items are recyclable, from office paper and beverage containers to electronic equipment and batteries. To find out more about reducing waste, check out the Eco-Schools USA Consumption and Waste Pathway.
6. Green your school grounds.
Planting trees, shrubs and other native plants helps your school reduce its carbon footprint by shading the school building (reducing energy use), providing carbon sinks (plants take in CO2), and also providing essential habitat for wildlife (which are often displaced due to climate change and habitat loss). To find out more about greening your school grounds, check out the Eco-Schools USA Schoolyard Habitats® Pathway.
7. Reduce your school's transportation emissions.
Driving cars is a major contributing factor to climate change. Have students explore alternatives to driving private cars to school including walking, biking and public transportation. Have students develop an anti-idling campaign to reduce excessive idling in front of schools, or develop a bike- or walk-to-school-day. To find out more about reducing your school's transportation footprint, check out the Eco-Schools USA Transportation Pathway.
8. Encourage your school to serve local foods.
By working with your cafeteria staff to locate and serve local foods whenever possible, your school will reduce the amount of energy used to produce and transport food. Most food travels thousands of miles before it is served. Local foods are not just more energy-efficient; they also tend to be fresher and less processed, promote healthy eating habits and support the local economy. Learn more using our Sustainable Foods Pathway.
9. Research and encourage your school to use alternative energy.
Many schools today are exploring alternative energy sources including solar, wind and geothermal. Provide opportunities for students to get involved in design challenges using alternative energy sources. Competition can be a healthy driver to creativity and innovation!
10. Explore green careers.
"Green" or environmental careers are one of the fastest growing sectors in the job market. Most "green" careers are focused on protecting and conserving the environment. Display your progress on bulletin boards and displays around the school. Hold school or community events that focus on water conservation actions and wastewater issues. As older students begin to think about college and career opportunities, explore the vast array of green jobs that are available. Learn more at NWF's EcoLeaders.
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