School is Now in Session


(EPA Photo/Kasia Broussalian)

By Elias Rodriguez

Are those schools bells I hear ringing? What can compare to the wellspring of bliss that bubbles up in parents when we bid adios to our little bundles of joy on the first day of school? “Oh, yes my darlings, parting is sweet sorrow but you must practice your ABCs, 123s and hopefully learn something about becoming good stewards of our (one and only livable) planet.”

My kids are old enough to understand that the decisions they make each day have an impact on their environment.  Whether it is choosing a take a waste free lunch to a school or remembering to recycle any waste they do produce, parents and caregivers have a host of ways to instill values that demonstrate a healthy respect for Earth’s limited resources.

Of course, much has changed since my days of attending school in Manhattan. New York City’s 1,600 public schools make it the largest school system  in the nation. The day our teacher took us on a field trip to cleanup a neighborhood park was the kind of hands-on lesson I still cherish decades after the class was over and the teacher’s name forgotten. My family is living in the suburbs now and I marvel at the fact that seven trees are now my personal responsibility.  It is sobering to know that they were here before me and will remain long after I am gone.  As a father of two young scholars, I’ve noticed that school buses no longer spew black smoke thanks in part of EPA’s funding to cleanup school bus diesel engines. Teachers are increasingly savvy about incorporating environmental education into their lessons and my kids are far more sensitive then I was at their age about shutting off the faucet and disposing of used batteries  properly. Is there a greener planet in our future? I am optimistic. School is in session and the next generation is hard at work. I bet many students have great ideas about how to protect our planet. We invite you to comment and share some of your ideas below.

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