Choosing a Topic


Need some help choosing a topic to investigate for the Young Reporters for the Environment USA competition?

Whatever issue you choose, you should be able to say:

YES! The issue is related to the  environment and/or sustainability. It has implications that affect the well-being of the planet and its people.

YES! The issue is important in my community. While it might be a global problem, it has direct effects in the place where I live. I'll be able to investigate it firsthand and share the information I uncover with the people who live here.

YES! I am passionate about this issue. This is something I care about and that is interesting and meaningful to me. I am eager to learn more about it and do something to help solve it.


You may find it helpful to start by looking at the pathways of the Eco-Schools USA program. The pathways encompass a wide variety of environmental issues. The topics listed below are just a sample of the many areas you might choose to pursue. As you read through them, which ones catch your interest? Which ones can you connect to something happening in your own community? These questions should help you launch off into your own investigation.


Energy Pathway

Renewable vs. non-renewable energy sources, mining, oil drilling, hydro-fracturing, locations and hazards of energy-generating facilities, pollution, global warming, energy efficiency and conservation, lighting, heat and air conditioning, alternative energy sources.


Water Pathway

Water pollution, water conservation, water scarcity, accessibility of clean water, aquifer depletion, runoff, drought, water treatment methods and effectiveness, aquaculture, mercury and other contaminants, bioaccumulation of toxins in fish and other aquatic animals.


Climate Change Pathway

Climate Change
Fossil fuel consumption, carbon pollution, carbon footprints, greenhouse gas emissions, changing weather patterns, extreme weather, temperature and phenology records, sea ice and glacier decline, sea level rise, effects on plants and animals, mitigating harm to humans and ecosystems.


Transportation Pathway

Fossil fuel consumption, energy conservation, fuel efficiency, air pollution, noise pollution, public transportation, active transportation, carpooling, car sharing, physical activity, pedestrian and cyclist safety, walk- and bike-to-school programs, anti-idling campaigns, wildlife corridors, complete streets, walkability index, livable communities.


School Grounds Pathway

School Grounds
Outdoor education, experiential or hands-on learning, physical activity, wildlife habitat, ecosystem restoration, gardening for wildlife, edible gardens, chemical and pesticide use, irrigation, runoff.


Consumption and Waste Pathway

Consumption and Waste
Recycling, composting, waste reduction, repurposing and re-use, disposable vs. reusable products, packaging, product life cycle analysis, landfills, waste haulers, contamination, air and water quality, hazardous waste reduction and disposal, e-waste.


healthy living 

Healthy Living 
Physical activity, outdoor time and its connections to physical and mental health, obesity, value of recess, importance of play in child development, outdoor recreation, accessibility of parks, trails and other green spaces.


Eco-Schools Healthy Schools 

Healthy Schools 
Toxic and hazardous materials in schools and other public buildings, mercury, lead, asbestos, mold, green cleaning products, natural lighting, indoor air quality, integrated pest management, asthma triggers, other health hazards.


Eco-Schools Biodiversity 

Importance of species diversity, biodiversity hotspots, plant and animal inventories, habitat loss, overfishing, endangered species, extinction, new and undiscovered species, native vs. invasive species, citizen science initiatives.


Sustainable Food pathways icon 

Sustainable Food 
Agricultural issues (soil erosion, air and water pollution, factory farming, monocultures, genetically modified organisms, etc.), sustainable agriculture, organic foods, local food systems, food transport, school lunch, farm-to-school programs, home or school gardens, farmers markets, nutrition, processed foods, obesity, other diet-related health issues, access to healthy food.


New YRE International Collaboration Opportunity

Group YRE 

New this year, youth can choose to collaborate and jointly submit an article in the Sustainable Consumption and Production category. Learn more.

Green Your School