Being given the duty of saving the planet can become quite the
overwhelming task for adults. Yet, in the eyes of children, it's a
feat that can be accomplished. Whether it's a reminder to throw the
soda can in the recycling bucket or use bio-degradable plates,
glasses and silverware, it's often the children who take the lead
when it comes to growing green. Schools have seen their
determination and are working hard to include the idea of
environmental responsibility in all facets of curriculum.
"Our hope and goal is if the children in our care grow up with us
with an eco-friendly living, they won't know any different and take
it with them as they become young adults," explains Sarah Stiltner,
Executive Director of the Little Green Tree House in Chicago. "We
hope that while the children are here, the parents will understand
the importance of being eco-friendly and practice good habits at
home. Being a part of an eco-friendly school directly effects the
children in a positive way, but they may not necessarily fully
grasp the concepts under they are a bit older."
As an eco-friendly childcare center, Little Green Tree House
incorporates a number of environmental concepts into the curriculum
that can be considered age appropriate. Examples include "talking
about plants and how they help us, how we dispose of garbage and
recyclables, turning off the lights, conserving water and teaching
them fun songs that will help them remember how important the
Stiltner herself saw firsthand some of the struggles that are
currently occurring in many educational institutions when it comes
to adopting more green practices. "I spent some time as a first
grade teacher in a school system that had no idea what it meant to
be eco- friendly," she says. "There were many issues within this
school that made me feel uneasy. The food in itself was not
something I would personally eat; there was tons of food and
garbage waste, and recycling was unheard of and all of the supplies
in my classroom were plastic. After coming to Little Green Tree
House, I realized how extremely easy it was to start living an
eco-friendly life style."
Often, some of the most monumental "green" changes are the ones
behind the scenes. As one of the first schools certified under the
Consortium of School Networking Green Computing program, Lake
Forest Country Day School has made a number of building wide
"In terms of energy use, we have such things as scripted shutdown
of all public desktop & notebook computers, the configuration
of printers and LCD projectors go into power save mode or
completely shut down after disuse and the automated shutdown of
building lights via our automated building management system,"
explains Keith Gillette, Director of Information Technology at Lake
Forest Country Day. "For waste reduction, we have also established
central & distributed charging stations and replaced batteries
in digital cameras and remote controls with rechargeable
In addition, LFCDS has incorporated students in many of their
"green" practices over the year, such as providing them with an
organic gardening project in the LFCDS Early Childhood Center, the
Earth Keepers curriculum and recycling collection in our Lower
School elementary division, and the recent switch to Organic Life,
a food service provider with a commitment to organically produced
Undoubtedly these changes can end up making a big impact in the
efforts to become greener. But educators agree that these green
practices must also be practiced at home in order to make them
last. Simple changes in your home can include providing kids with
wood or organic cotton based toys, organic cotton bedding and a
menu of meals made with the very best in organic food.
"We feel it is important for children to go to school in an
eco-friendly environment because as an educator I know that
children are a product of their environment," says Stiltner. "If
they grow up with an eco-friendly awareness there is a high chance
those practices will stay with them which in return benefits much
more than just themselves."
"I have seen some schools moving to green elements, but they are
just so overwhelmed with so many other things that sometimes, they
just never end up integrating these green practices within their
curriculum," adds Cindy Morgan, Owner and Founder of Shift2Green,
an ecommerce business that advises schools on green planning and
fundraising. "In my opinion, we have the responsibility to always
lead by example. Change is never easy, but all of us can do it….one
day at a time."
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