National Green Week is an annual event that the Green Education Foundation (GEF) started. It’s usually marked in the first week of February and lasts all through to April. Schools are encouraged to take time to discuss sustainability issues and how they can be part of making a difference. In the UK, it is known as the Great Big Green Week.
Green Education Foundation is a non-profit organisation committed to creating a sustainable future through education. They have made it easier for schools to participate in this challenge by creating different themes they can choose from. Some of the themes include:1. GREEN ENERGY CHALLENGE- The Green energy challenge calls upon schools to improve their energy efficiency through changes in behavior. This K-12 sustainability education program empowers children to take small steps that can have a big collective impact on our environment, our economy, and our societies. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that schools could save up to 50% of their energy costs by adopting simple energy-saving measures and renovations. Here are some facts that fuel this challenge:
- The US is the number one trash producer in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year.
- Paper products make up the largest part of our trash at 40%
- Every ton of recycled office paper saves 380 gallons of oil
- Energy saved from one recycled aluminium will operate a TV set for 3 hours and is equivalent to half a can of gasoline
- Glass is one of the very few products that can be completely recycled again and again. However, if it ends up in a landfill, It will never decompose
- Plastic bags and other plastic thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year
Make Green Energy challenge your theme
2. WASTE REDUCTION CHALLENGE - When you participate in the challenge, you learn how your trash impacts the environment and how you can make a difference by reducing the waste you create daily. Here are some statistics about waste:
- Each person in the United States creates a daily average of 4.5 pounds (2.04 kilograms) of solid waste.
- According to a 2010 EPA estimate, Americans create roughly 251 million tons (228 million metric tons) of garbage annually. Imagine the RMS Titanic, which weighed 46,329 gross tons (47,072 metric tons) to visualize this number. The United States generates more than 4,837 Titanic's worth of solid waste in a normal calendar year.
- If every American recycled his or her newspaper just one day a week, we would save about 36 million trees a year.
- Ton for ton, recycling reduces pollution, saves energy, and reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions more than any other solid waste management option.
- For every four-foot stack of paper you recycle, you save a tree.
Make waste reduction challenge your theme.
3. GREEN THUMB CHALLENGE- Get your gardening tools! This challenge is a roll call to all schools to garden! GEF provides gardening tools and resources to connect the garden to the classroom. This is a great way to get students to appreciate the amazing benefits of gardening.
Make Green Thumb Challenge your theme.
4. I RIDE GREEN- This invites participants to start easy-to-adopt green habits that can lead to lifelong healthy behaviors. Participants are encouraged to share success stories and strategies. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, each day, Americans collectively travel a total of 15 million miles on car trips that are ½ mile or less. These micro-trips account for nearly one million gallons of gasoline burned and 10,000 tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere daily. In partnership with Amtrak, GEF created I Ride Green to motivate American students and their families to adopt green transportation habits, and feel empowered to reverse these alarming trends. The program’s objective is to:
- Educate students about issues around transportation and sustainable transportation topics such as hybrid technology, bio-fuels,and much more.
- Inspire children to spend more time outdoors being physically active by promoting the importance of physical and emotional health and well-being through standards-based curriculum and activities.
Make I Ride Green your theme.
5. GREEN BUILDING PROGRAM- The Green Building Program encourages participants to learn about green building strategies through a standards-based curriculum, case studies, and other GEF resources. Students and teachers learn how buildings impact the environment and how changes in construction can help conserve natural resources. The program objectives include but are not limited to the following:
- Educate students and administrators on how their school building consumes energy and water and identify strategies to become more efficient, thereby lowering their schools’ operating costs.
- Understand factors contributing to indoor and outdoor environmental quality and implement strategies to create a healthier, more productive learning environment for school occupants.
Make Green Building Program your theme.
6. SUSTAINABLE WATER CHALLENGE- This invites students to learn about the importance of water, our planet's most valuable resource, and how to conserve water in their homes and schools. Consider the following statistics:
- The average American family of four uses around 400 gallons of water per day at home. Roughly 70 per cent of this use occurs indoors.
- Around 700 million people in 43 countries suffer today from water scarcity.
- In the United States, nearly 7 billion gallons of water is devoted to outdoor water use every day.
- The water found at the Earth’s surface in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and swamps makes up only 0.3% of the world’s fresh water.
- 1 in 8 people world wide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water.
As students across the country participate in this year’s Green Week Challenge, we hope that individuals and corporations will also. Most people know that our climate has changed and that more needs to be done to save it, the problem is, many people don’t know how. We encourage you to take advantage of all the resources the Green Education Foundation has made available and incorporate them into your chosen program. At the end of your program, if you wish, you can complete a survey offered by the (GEF) and be entered to win a 100$ Amex gift card!
We can’t wait to read about all your programs! Let’s make the earth GREEN!