Historic Youth Delegation Attends CEC Council Session in Mexico

By Sophie Faaborg-Andersen, Justin McCartney, and Professor James Olsen. Additional work by Aaron Silberman and Sara Carioscia.

In early September, a small delegation from Georgetown University attended the 23rd Summit of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s (CEC) Council. The CEC is a trinational organization dedicated to addressing North American environmental concerns. The delegation to the CEC was organized by the Environmental Future(s) Initiative (EFI) and cosponsored by the Georgetown University Offices for the Vice President for Global Engagement and the Provost. Here are their experiences in Mexico in their own words:

Sophie Faaborg-Andersen

Attending the CEC Session was a tremendous experience that made me proud to be a member of the EFI. The Council Session addressed a number of topics, including climate change action, sustainable communities, and youth and the environment. With the Youth Engagement Project Proposal, the EFI sought to create a two-pronged approach for engaging youth in environmental action centered around their input into policymaking and the development of community youth outreach programs.

Attending the Session heightened my appreciation for the importance of integrating marginalized youth voices into policymaking processes. I was delighted to see the ministers of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico refer to their significant indigenous populations and the contributions they can make to the CEC through traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Additionally, it was an honor to be able to collaborate with our youth counterparts from Mexico and Canada and deliver a presentation to the three Council ministers during the Townhall Session at the conclusion of the conference. The proposal was graciously received, and I am excited by the prospect of our ideas being taken into account in future discussions.

Justin McCartney

My experience at the CEC Council Session was defined by both the conference itself and the prospect for further developing youth engagement going forward. I was delighted when our delegation was given the opportunity to personally meet and speak with U.S. EPA’s Administrator, Gina McCarthy. During our private conversation with her, we discussed our proposal and ideas for how youth engagement can be systematized at the national and international level. I was excited by how clearly Administrator McCarthy understood the importance of integrating youth themselves into the processes for designing youth engagement.

Additionally, I was inspired by our impromptu collaboration with counterparts from Mexico and Canada on a proposal for permanent youth engagement. Huddled around a laptop in the hotel lobby, hashing out our demands: this for me was emblematic of what our time in Mexico was truly about.

Professor James Olsen

It’s hard to overstate how gratifying the experience of leading the delegation to the CEC Council Session was for me as an educator, observing our students’ excitement, dedication, and success as they offered substantive proposals to government officials. While I can’t scale and recreate this trip for each of my students, I’m impressed by the pedagogical principles that can directly inform course design generally, substantively improving our students’ learning and growth.

I am confident that this trip, as well as the principles that governed the trip (including the student-driven nature of the delegation to the development of external partnerships involving real stakes), functioned in a transformative way for these students. I’m just as confident that on a less grand scale, our classrooms can implement similar structural features and foster the positive transformation of our students.

 

All the authors and co-authors were members of Georgetown University’s delegation to the CEC conference this October in Merida, Mexico.

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

That’s Not What My School Lunches Looked Like…

By Wendy Dew

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Salida Colorado School District to learn about the Farm to School Initiative the local community has embraced.  Providing local foods for student lunches is very beneficial for schools, communities and the environment:

  • Reduced carbon footprint by reducing the distance from food source to food consumption
  • Healthier and sustainable food opportunities
  • Environmental, cultural and agricultural education hands-on learning
  • Supporting local communities and economies

My visit to Salida was amazing!  The day was filled with so many environmental and educational best practices and I was completely in awe.

The day started with a visit to the main farm that supplies the school district with healthy foods for school meals.  The farm was created collaboratively by the Salida School District, LiveWell Chaffee County and Guidestone Colorado with additional support from citizens, local businesses, and Colorado foundations. The farm was being harvested and maintained by Guidestone Colorado and the Southwest Conservation Corps volunteers when I was there.  A variety of volunteers, students and citizens help maintain the farm throughout the year.

A collage of people working and taking care of a farm.

A collage of images from daily farm life.

Many types of crops make up the farm:

After leaving the farm we visited the middle school garden and I was able to meet the Salida School District Superintendent who is very excited about the Farm to School Initiative:

The school gardens that are in place at the schools act as outdoor classrooms.  At the elementary school, students learned about how plants grow, how to take care of them and even about the cultural significance of certain plants to Native Americans.

Students visit the school garden for a lesson at the local elementary school

Students visit the school garden for a lesson at the local elementary school

I was then informed that lunch would be provided to us by the local high school to celebrate Colorado Proud School Meal Day.  I have to admit my eyes got a little wide at this announcement.  I am a bit of a foodie and my recollections of school lunches were cardboard-like pizzas and greasy deep fried burritos.  I was a little leery standing in line, but once I got up to the serving area the “lunch lady” proudly told me about all of the great farm fresh ingredients that were going into the various dishes she had created.  I was super impressed!   The meal was low waste:  by using serving trays as plates that are then washed and reused, the students learn about waste reduction.  I also noticed that just enough food was made for the amount of students and that each student got a reasonable-size portion.  This helps contribute to healthy eating and less wasted food.  I wolfed down my very healthy and super tasty lunch with colleagues, teachers and students.

Wendy Dew enjoying lunch with colleagues at the local high school

Wendy Dew enjoying lunch with colleagues at the local high school

One student was very clear about how great it is to know where your food comes from is, and how “creepy” it is to not know:

The day ended with a shopping trip at the Youth Farmers Market, hosted by the Salida Boys and Girls Club, where the other shoppers and I happily went home with bags of veggies.  I snagged two cucumbers, a bag of green beans and two bunches of kale.  My homemade kale chips for dinner that night were my best batch yet!

Buyinig vegetables at the Yout Farmers Market.

A day of shopping at the Youth Farmers Market.

I cannot express how impressed I was with this community and this program.  Guidestone Colorado has managed to generate support from literally every player in the farm to school food cycle within the rural town of Salida.

A LiveWell Garden sign showing the types of vegetables grown on the farm.

A LiveWell Garden sign showing the types of vegetables grown on the farm.

 The educational importance of kids understanding where their food comes from is, to me, one of the most important environmental learning experiences.   Helping to plant, care for and eat locally grown food, teaches children so many different aspects of environmental science.  It is a very personal, hands on educational opportunity that every child should have.  School districts across the country could learn a lot from the Salida community that is raising food-wise, healthy kids.

To learn more about local foods visit: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places

To learn more about sustainable food management visit: http://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food

About the author: Wendy Dew is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for EPA Region 8.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Endorsing a Path to Healthier Schools

Jim Jones Jim Jones

One of the most rewarding parts of my job as Assistant Administrator is visiting schools that have transformed themselves by reducing the unnecessary exposure of students, teachers, and staff to pests, allergens, and pesticides. Safer, healthier and well-maintained school environments can improve attendance rates, student learning and even school pride. Reduced pesticide use can also save money.

How have these particular schools done it? It all starts with a champion – someone to introduce and advocate for his or her school to change its approach to pest management. This person can be a school superintendent, nurse, plant manager, teacher, or even a parent. Second, the changes can be simple.  Very often it’s about tackling the source of the pest problem which can remove or reduce the need for pesticide treatments in the future. This approach is called Integrated Pest Management, or IPM.

With so many success stories popping up, the question was: how can EPA reach the thousands of school administrators, nurses, plant managers, teachers and PTAs across the country to give them information they can use to transform their schools?

Recently we took a huge first step towards meeting this challenge! Twenty national organizations came to Washington, DC to stand with EPA and sign on to help the agency in the effort to reduce the unnecessary exposure of students, teachers, and staff to pests and pesticides.

The goal is to “make IPM practices the standard in all schools over the next three years.”  And these partnering organizations agreed to use their vast membership and communication channels to help get sustainable pest management practices adopted in schools across the United States. Here’s the impressive list of organizations:

Simple preventive measures like sealing cracks and openings, installing door sweeps, fixing water leaks, and refining sanitation practices can make a school unappealing to pests. Conducting regular inspections, monitoring for pests and pest-conducive conditions, implementing an IPM policy or plan, and providing IPM education for the school community can institutionalize this smart, sensible, and sustainable approach to pest control.

Where preventive measures are not sufficient to eliminate pests, the judicious and careful use of pesticides can complete your school’s pest control strategy.

For more information on EPA’s School IPM program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/managing-pests-schools

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

EPIC Team ENERGY STAR Drive

TeamES_FacebookBadge

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Summer is winding down and for kids across the country, school is just around the corner (if it hasn’t started already). But as you run around buying new book bags and other school supplies, you may be pining for just one more fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. Well look no further because Team ENERGY STAR is the perfect way to end the summer!

EPA knows that young people are great influencers when it comes to spreading the word about protecting our environment. That’s why ENERGY STAR teamed up with PTO Today, LG Electronics USA and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (with support from Samsung Electronics) to teach the next generation how they can take action against climate change. With the help of the characters from the movie EPIC, Team ENERGY STAR teaches young people about saving energy in order to better protect the planet. You can join the team on ENERGY STAR’s website and get immediate access to fun and educational resources that teach the whole family about saving energy. Your child can take the EPIC Pledge and get the chance to bring home the newly available DVD of the hit movie EPIC! Teaching your kids about protecting the environment through Team ENERGY STAR will also make you eligible for rewards from LG Electronics.

It may sound like a cliché, but today’s kids are truly our future. Engaging young people in making a difference today will make a big difference in securing a cleaner, more sustainable future. For the past two years Team ENERGY STAR has shown thousands of kids how they can help their family save energy and protect our environment. Sign your family up by September 30th, and end the summer with a great lesson that will stick with your kids for years to come.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the communications team for the ENERGY STAR Labeling Branch. She does not have any kids, but plans on signing up her Goddaughter Victoria for Team ENERGY STAR.  

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Recognizing Students for Innovative Environmental Solutions

By Bob  Perciasepe

How would you change the world with $90,000? That’s what we asked students from colleges and universities across the country as part of an annual competition to come up with innovative solutions to some of today’s toughest public health and environmental challenges. And the responses we received were remarkable.

EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award competition was held this past spring at the 9th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo. Three hundred student innovators from 45 teams convened on the National Mall in Washington, DC to showcase sustainable projects to protect people’s health and the environment, encourage economic growth, and use natural resources more efficiently.

Each award winning team will receive a grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their design and potentially bring it to the marketplace. About a quarter of P3 award winners have started new companies or nonprofit organizations, and many have used their P3 grant funds to attract investment capital, additional grants and competitive awards.

A panel of expert judges convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science helped select the winners following two days of judging. It is my honor to announce this year’s winners:

  • Loyola University of Chicago for developing a greener way, through a wetland and a distillation process, to treat and reuse byproducts of biodiesel.
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell for creating nontoxic, biodegradable surfactants from fruit peels and algae, and seeing how they are effective.
  • Radford University for designing a naturally-occurring coating that would allow sand to absorb water pollutants, such as arsenic and cadmium.
  • San Jose State University for using saw dust instead of plastic to create inexpensive building materials, customized for local climates, with 3D printer technology.
  • Georgia Southern University for further innovating the Low Temperature Combustion diesel engine, to operate on locally sourced n-buthanol and cottonseed oil; thus designing a diesel engine that could create even lower NOx and soot emissions.
  • Cornell University for designing a simple, low-cost, lower-maintenance water filtration device for Honduras communities, using a stacked-rapid sand filter.
  • Cornell University for evaluating and improving cookstove fuel resources in Kenyan communities, by burning solid fuel without oxygen, which can create biochar for soil enrichment.

The students that participated in this competition – and young people across the country – continue to give me confidence that our next generation of American scientists and engineers are up to the task of solving the world’s most pressing environmental problems.

About the author: Bob Perciasepe is acting administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Help Us Find the Best Students for Our 2013 Summer Program

By Nancy Grundahl

Do you know a student currently in 7th grade who lives in the Washington, DC, Baltimore or Philadelphia metropolitan area and wants to learn more about the environment? Is that student among the best and the brightest?  Then please encourage them to apply for our Student Environmental Development Program (SEDP). Applications for this summer’s sessions must be postmarked by April 23.

Students who are accepted will spend six weeks learning about the environment from a science teacher, EPA employees and local environmental professionals. Classroom learning will be supplemented by hands-on learning activities and field trips.

Students will learn about environmental issues common to urban communities including contaminated fish consumption, children’s asthma, sun safety, lead, polluted drinking water and hazardous household waste. In addition, they will learn life skills such as public speaking, working with group dynamics and computer literacy. More than 1,000 students have completed our program so far and they have given us rave reviews!

How to apply? Students must be nominated by their middle school. Two letters of recommendation are required. Students are chosen based on their grades, attendance record, extracurricular activities and behavior. Is it competitive? It sure is – only 20 students will be chosen to participate this year for each location. The cost to the students? Zero!

To learn more, go to our website and start spreading the word. Help us find and develop future environmental scientists and engineers.

About the author: Nancy Grundahl has worked for the Philadelphia office of EPA since the mid-80’s. Nancy believes in looking at environmental problems in a holistic, multi-media way and is a strong advocate of preventing pollution instead of dealing with it after it has been created. Nancy is currently the Web Content Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Environmental Haikus

natureA concrete jungle
This is my environment
Hopeful for clean, green

Smoke stacks in the air
Polluted unhealthy body
Asthmatic I am

Blue red sky at dawn
Warm summer breeze cool dew
Eyes open –  waste, smog

Tall trees to open sky
Fresh air and the river roars
Camp, a vague memory

Recycle everyone
Trash takes long to decompose
Inspire generation

Ms. Anderson’s 7th grade summer class participates in combining poetry with science and nature.  They’ve enjoyed opening up their eyes to environmental concerns in their southwest Chicago community in Blue Island.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

How Are We Doing in Recycling

studentIf you look at nature, you would see that there is no waste. Every ecosystem survives on its local resources and everything is being reused and recycled. This is zero waste. Nature has perfected that recycling process that we are still having a hard time to do.  So, I wanted to find out about our progress so far, how we can improve, and how much more do we have to do to reach a real zero waste community.

This summer, I made this as one of my projects to find out how we are doing with our recycling efforts.  I visited my local recycling and transfer station, and interviewed the operations manager to find out about it.  I was encouraged to hear that as a community our level of awareness has increased tremendously, and we have shown good progress in diverting recyclables from the landfills.

However, we still have a lot more work to do. When the mixed recyclables arrive at the transfer station, there are several staff members who manually separate the items and sort the recyclables based on the materials. There is still a lot of trash found along with the recyclables and also there are recyclables still being thrown away as trash. We all need to take personal interest in educating ourselves and understand the products we use every day, how to dispose those items, and make smart eco-friendly choices when shopping.

One fact that bothered me was that every day we are shipping in large containers our recyclables collected from our curbside to factories overseas, for processing and conversion into raw materials to be made into new products again. This contradicts nature’s principle of recycling locally and reusing it locally.
I think that our progress would continue at this slower pace, unless we redesign our cities for industrial ecology where the waste from one factory becomes the raw material for another, and consumers are presented with better choices of products. Although many years of efforts have been done, we have only begun the journey and have a very long way to go for achieving zero waste community. Let’s all do our part to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Pavan is 12 years old, founder of non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc., founder of Green Kids Conference, Official Biomimicry Youth Speaker, and an International reporter for Primary Perspectives radio show.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Encouraging Design Thinking to Develop Integrated Green Infrastructure Solutions

By Ken Hendrickson

Campus Rainworks Challenge - click for more information!When you hear the words “design” or “designer”, what comes to mind?  The latest couture on the runway?  Swiss furniture with names that are hard to pronounce?   While you may envision the products of design, I tend to think about design thinking – the process of working through a complex problem. In many cases, I believe the understanding gained during this process is more important than the product or end result.  Design can result in beautiful or interesting things, but design thinking can help to integrate multiple disciplines, create positive change and advance our understanding of the world.

We’ve all heard the phrase “thinking outside the box” – to be creative and not use the same old thinking to solve complex problems.  Design thinking takes that a step further.  It helps to reframe the problem, consider information from several fields and test possible solutions.  It’s a perfect vehicle for advancing ideas in new and unexpected ways.  This explains the popularity of design competitions as a way to encourage creative thinking around a particular set of environmental problems.

One example is the use of design competitions to explore the possibilities of green infrastructure to address urban stormwater. These green techniques use vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater close to its source.  They also have the potential to provide additional social and environmental benefits.  Design competitions are helping to build an interdisciplinary discussion around the potential of green infrastructure – thinking outside the pipe.

Region 3’s Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) Initiative did a webcast this spring exploring how design competitions can be powerful tools to spur innovation and adoption of green infrastructure communities. View the archived webcast by visiting http://www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/watersheds.htm#g3academy and clicking “G3 Academy Studio.”

The Community Design Collaborative, Philadelphia Water Department, and EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office are partnering to host Infill Philadelphia: Soak it up!, an exhibition of best practices in green stormwater infrastructure.  The goal of the exhibition is to showcase projects that soak up stormwater while creating healthy, engaging, and visually-appealing urban places.  Selected entries will be on display at Philadelphia’s Center for Architecture this fall. The exhibition is also a build up to a national design competition.

Design competitions can also engage and educate students.  The EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge seeks to engage college and university students from multiple disciplines to develop green infrastructure solutions.  This design competition is an exciting opportunity for college and university students to be on the cutting edge of a real-world issue and contribute to the discussion.  Students must form teams and register to participate.  Registration for the competition is open from September 4 to October 5, 2012, and entries will be due on December 14, 2012.   Visit the Campus RainWorks website for more information about the competition.

Have you ever thought about designing something to solve a problem?  How did your thinking change from when you started designing to when you developed your solution?  What kinds of things did you have to consider?  How would you design green infrastructure for your neighborhood?

About the Author: Ken Hendrickson has worked at the EPA since 2010 and is the Green Infrastructure staff lead in the Office of State and Watershed Partnerships.  Ken has a background in landscape architecture, geology, and watershed management.  He enjoys working to empower communities to improve their environment and finding solutions that create more resilient social, environmental, and economic systems. When not in the office, Ken enjoys challenging and rewarding outdoor activities and creative indoor hobbies.

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource.  Throughout the year, EPA will be highlighting different aspects of the history and successes of the Clean Water Act in reducing pollution in the past 40 years.  The month of August will focus on Science and Innovation.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

How To Go Green And Go Back To School At The Same Time

By Stephanie Nicholson

What time is it? SCHOOL TIME! Parents and teachers with summer coming to an end it’s time to load up on pencils and crayons. This year while shopping, keep in mind the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. As a general rule, buy durable and recyclable goods, and when possible reuse old supplies. Before shopping, go through everything you have left from last year and make a list to prevent unnecessary purchases. Back to school shopping can be hectic, but if you follow my top three green tips for parents and teachers you can rest easy knowing you minimized your footprint.

Tips for Parents:

1.    Buy durable, sturdy backpacks that last for years
I still use the same backpacks I used for all four years of high school when I travel, and in the one instance the zipper broke the popular outdoor outfitter replaced it free of charge. You can even pass down durable backpacks to your younger children.

2.    Kick the classic “brown bag lunch” to the curb
If you pack your child’s lunch, reduce waste and invest in a reusable lunch bag. Not to mention, your child will have fun picking out his/her lunch bag from the extensive collection with popular characters and cool designs.

3.    Buy smart! Purchase products made from recycled materials
Many supplies are made from recyclable materials such as pencils made from old blue jeans and binders made from old shipping boxes. You can also reuse items like refillable pens, rechargeable batteries, and scrap paper for notes.

Tips for Teachers:

1. Reuse old supplies
Take an inventory of what you have left over before you buy. You will most likely be able to reuse things like crayons, scissors and glue from previous years.

2. Promote recycling in the classroom
Place recycling bins in the classroom for paper, cans, and plastic. Encourage your students to use them. You could even make a game of it, and when a goal amount is collected the class wins a prize.

3. Reduce paper usage
Use the blackboard or whiteboard to reduce paper usage. If possible, set up a class webpage where students can access assignments from home and ask questions.

This is just the beginning, check out these EPA tips for back to school. Do you have any of your own green tips for the back to school season?

About the author: Stephanie Nicholson is an intern with the EPA Office of Environmental Education. She is a senior at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland and will graduate this winter with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.