We’re officially off and running into 2015, and for those of you who want to help “green” your child’s school or introduce your kids to fun and easy ways they can help the environment, Grades of Green is your answer.
Launched on Earth Day 2010 by four moms who wanted a better world for their children, Grades of Green is a California nonprofit that aims to make environmental protection second nature in young minds. Their website offers free instruction to inspire and empower students and the broader school community to take action to care for the environment. Anyone who wants to implement sustainability programs can register his or her school online - at no cost - to get tips on reducing trash, emissions and harmful classroom chemicals and can access dozens of other ideas to help the environment. Grades of Green is growing rapidly, with nearly 184,000 students from 277 schools around the world currently enrolled. The organization’s goal is to enroll thousands of schools with millions of kids—all caring for the environment and collectively making a huge impact.
Grades of Green also has an environmental leadership program called the Youth Corps, in which participating students become environmental stewards and leaders in their communities by committing to undertake a "Green Project" at their school over the course of the school year. These students, ranging from 2nd to 12th grade, have creative ideas for greening their schools and caring for the earth. For example, when some Youth Corps students discovered that Los Angeles County throws away enough trash to fill Dodger Stadium every day, they decided to bring “Trash Free Tuesdays” to their schools. This program encourages students to bring lunches that don’t generate trash, such as lunch boxes with reusable containers and reusable water bottles instead of disposable juice boxes. Making these types of easy changes can have a big impact—and can inspire classmates to make other environmental changes, too.
The Youth Corps students are hard at work, implementing a variety of activities at their school. Here’s a sample of a few:
Starting a garden at the school
Working to remove single-use water bottles and styrofoam lunch trays at the school cafeteria
Leading e-recycling and e-waste programs on campus
Collecting and donating used shoes
Organizing sports equipment swaps on lightly worn athletic shoes and equipment
Leading a beach cleanup
If your school could use help with the green activities they are already doing, or if you need ideas to get started, sign up to be a Grades of Green School. It’s all free. Just register here to gain access to their online resources marked by the phrase “steps to implement activities.” The site includes over 40 Green Activities with step-by-step instructions, including photos, video clips, helpful products, and artwork to provide each school with immediate start-up capability. Get going!