Developing and operating a school environmental plan can be an important part of a school environmental education curriculum. Here we identify several environmental concerns that should be included in a school environmental program. Ways to begin a school environmental program are suggested.
DOES YOUR SCHOOL HAVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES AND A PROGRAM REGARDING PURCHASING MATERIALS?
An important aspect of any school environmental program is an environmental purchasing policy. A purchasing policy provides guidelines for materials to be used in the school and on the school grounds. An effective policy statement provides guidelines to reduce or eliminate the purchase of materials that are not safe or environmentally sound and also provides guidelines regarding amounts of materials to be purchased to reduce waste. The cafeteria, school and grounds maintenance, science programs, art programs, general school supplies, and remodeling projects are areas that should be the focus of initial policies.
Study and discussion regarding what materials should and should not be used in a school provide excellent environmental education experiences. These activities will provide both a good school environment and practice for students to model at home and in their consumer roles.
DOES YOUR SCHOOL HAVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES AND A PROGRAM FOR WISE USE OF MATERIALS IN AND AROUND THE SCHOOL?
Students and staff should be involved in discussing and establishing guidelines for purchasing alternative materials and storage, use, and disposal of materials. Students should also be involved in monitoring activities to determine how effective the policies are and whether changes in policies are needed.
Some materials containing chemicals are hazardous and should not be used in schools or should be stored and used under carefully specified conditions. Science, art, and technology programs are curricular areas usually affected most by guidelines; materials used in these classes may be corrosive, flammable, or carcinogenic and can present hazards to the students and the environment.
Buildings and grounds maintenance materials may also present problems. Materials used for cleaning buildings, exterminating insects in buildings, and as pesticides on playgrounds and playing fields are among problems frequently identified in school environmental studies.
DOES YOUR SCHOOL HAVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES AND A PROGRAM FOR IDENTIFYING, MONITORING AND CORRECTING ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS?
A school environmental program should include identifying and monitoring real problems in the school. Since many of these problems can also be problems in homes and the workplace, student involvement in the school program can develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are easily transferred to out-of-school settings. A few of the more common problems found in schools are emphasized as possible priorities.
DOES YOUR SCHOOL HAVE POLICIES FOR THE DISPOSAL OF WASTES?
A school environmental program should have waste disposal policies that consider conservation, waste reduction and pollution control.
A school can provide an excellent model for families by developing procedures to reduce wastes and to recycle or compost as much material as possible. Common materials used in schools that can be recycled include paper products, glass, plastic materials and aluminum and mixed metallic cans. Materials that can be composted include yard wastes and food wastes from cafeterias.
Policies should also be established for disposal of materials that can not be composted or recycled. Chemicals, paints, solvents, oil, batteries, and other items containing hazardous materials should be removed by approved methods. If a community does not have a program for handling hazardous wastes, a good school activity is to work with community officials to establish a program