The “school environment” includes the entirety of a school: the interior of the building, including air, tap water, and school supplies, and the environment surrounding the school building. A school’s practices have a major impact on the school environment, which then affects those who attend or work in the school; the chemicals a school uses for cleaning, for example, can affect the health of those in the school environment. How can we ensure that schools have the smallest impact possible on the health of their students and staff? We can undertake projects that improve the school environment through the Green Flag Program.
The Green Flag Program involves students, teachers, and parents in making schools healthy places to study and work. With each step that a school takes to improve its environment, the Green Flag Program presents an award to those who are working for change. If a school works hard enough for change, it will earn the Green Flag Award for Environmental Leadership.
The Green Flag Program recognizes schools’ achievements in any of four areas. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program helps schools switch to nontoxic methods of pest management. The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle program helps schools establish better systems of conservation and recycling. The Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) program assists schools in determining if they have serious indoor air quality problems and helps them devise solutions to these. Finally, the Non-Toxic Products program helps schools identify the toxic products they use and assists them in choosing non-toxic replacements.
Whatever issue area they work on, each school must complete a three-stage process to be eligible for a Green Flag Award for Environmental Leadership. First, schools evaluate their overall situation, choose an issue area to work on, and form a Green Flag team. Second, students and teachers evaluate problems and alternatives and work to educate themselves and the greater school community about the need for change. Finally, students and adults develop a program that will improve the environment, get approval for this, and conduct activities that will help the program succeed. Once a Green Flag team demonstrates that the program has been carried out for at least three months, they are eligible for the Green Flag Award for Environmental Leadership.
Children of all ages can enjoy success under the Green Flag Program. At Southeast Elementary School (Mansfield Center, CT), third and fourth graders run a project that turns the school’s cafeteria waste (and food waste from two other schools!) into compost, which in turn is used to grow plants for sale in the school’s greenhouse. At Herndon High School (Herndon, VA) students have turned a can and paper recycling project into a source of money for college scholarships, raising over $250,000 through their efforts. And at Lewis Cass Technical High (Detroit, MI) students conducting a Green Flag pest control project have seized this opportunity to learn about science, data gathering, and mapping.
Contact Group: The Child Proofing our Communities Campaign
Address: P.O. Box 6806
Falls Church, VA 22040-6806
Web site: www.greenflagschools.org