A National Plan for Sustainability Education Proposed

A key ally in our work for effective green education, the Center for Green Schools, has released a “National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability”  that sets a goal for all 50 state boards of educations to have comprehensive green schools policies—including a graduation requirement around sustainability literacy—by 2040.


The Plan calls on all policy leaders and players to unite behind making sustainability education a part of every curriculum: education leaders at all levels, green schools and sustainability advocates, political and corporate leaders, and of course parents and students.  It outlines the steps needed to achieve that goal, with year-by-year milestones to reach.

nationalActionPlanThe Green Education Foundation applauds the CGS on their National Plan and stands ready to offer whatever support we can. We’re eager and ready to make full sustainability education a reality! Continue reading

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National Green Week Extended to May 16!

Great news, you have not missed your chance to be a part of National Green Week, our largest K-12 sustainability education campaign! You can now make any week through May 16—an extension from April 25—yoblog 1ur very own Green Week.

National Green Week is our big annual event to empower schools to engage in sustainability focused lessons, projects and activities. The Green Week program is designed to empower school administrators and teachers to actively engage their students on the importance of environmental protection and sustainability through our free lesson plans, activities and audits.

“This was an easy call,” our CEO Victoria Waters said. “How can we deny motivated educators who want their students participating in sustainability initiatives? We are delighted to extend the deadline to accommodate their busy schedules.”

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National Green Week Kicks Off in Just 1 Month!

Can you believe it? The kickoff for the largest K-12 sustainability education campaign in the nation is just one month away! National Green Week, GEF’s flagship program, has certainly grown over the years. In 2014 we expect the most participation yet from schools, classrooms and youth groups across the country and the world! There is still time to join the movement by signing up (it’s free) and planning your very own Green Week using GEF’s online resources.

Prizes 12.10.12Don’t forget: GEF is giving away hundreds of prizes to those who sign up before February 3!

You can make any week between February 3 and April 25 your Green Week.

Read some excerpts from our start-up kit to find out how you can plan a successful Green Week initiative:

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Eco-friendly Decorating Tips for Christmas

In an age where the environment has come to the forefront of society, political campaigns and world-wide initiatives, it seems odd that so much of Christmas can be wasteful. There are meals too large for any family to eat, miles of wrapping paper destined for the landfill and millions of trees that get cut down. But with a little careful thought, everyone can make Christmas a little greener this year. As you deck the halls this holiday season, keep your environmental impact in mind by following these easy tips.Christmas decorations

Use what you have. There’s no reason to go out and buy all new eco-friendly Christmas decorations. In fact, throwing your old items out to replace them with greener options might actually be counterproductive to your environmental efforts. Instead, make the most of the Christmas decorations that you already have.

Host a neighborhood swap. If you’re just tired of your old holiday decorations give the things of Christmas past a chance at new life through a decoration swap. Host a party and ask your neighbors or a group of friends to bring any decorations they aren’t planning to use this holiday season. You can trade or borrow decorations from each other so your home gets something fresh and new this year at no cost to you or the environment. If there are leftover decorations, consider donating them to a local thrift store.

Potted treeGet a potted Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of almost every home’s holiday decorations. But despite its color it’s not always the greenest option. For example, an artificial tree may wear out after a few years, sealing its fate with a trip to the landfill. And because fake trees are made out of a non-recyclable plastic, the tree won’t decompose. A better option is to purchase a fresh cut Christmas tree. Though it’s been chopped down, tree farms usually plant three in its place and it can be repurposed as mulch. However, the most eco-friendly option is to buy a potted Christmas tree from your local nursery. You can bring the plant into your home and decorate it for the holiday season. And once Christmas is over, your family can plant it in the backyard.

Recycle products into decorations. This year, instead of buying new Christmas decorations, find ways to use items you might just throw away. For example, if you have a bunch of leftover glass ornaments, you can glue them together to make a wreath for your front door. Popsicle sticks can be combined to create whimsical snowflake ornaments.  And last year’s greeting cards can be cut up to become this year’s gift tags.

LED lightsHang LED lights. Depending on the number of lights you use and your electricity prices, you could spend a small fortune lighting your home with incandescent Christmas lights. And it’s not just costly to your wallet, holiday lights can hurt your carbon footprint too. Although it’s the greenest option to forgo Christmas lights, there are plenty of eco-friendly solutions on the market that can help keep your holiday season green and bright. The most popular option is to purchase LED lights. Because they use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs they are one of the most efficient light bulbs on the market.

GEF guest contributor Ben Barnes is a graduate student with experience in the energy sector.  His work concentrates on efforts to increase the sustainability of renewable energy sources and reduce the carbon footprint in the world we live in.

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Think Green: Energy Saving Solutions for Your Home

ThinkGreenBlog_1Being green is more than a state of mind. You are obviously already ecologically minded or you wouldn’t be here, right? As you make strides toward greener living, think about actionable items you can do now to live in more environmentally friendly surroundings. The long-term benefits of going green are far-reaching — cleaner water, unpolluted air, energy-efficient vehicles and so on. In the immediate term, though, taking steps toward a greener household means a significant cost savings for you and your family. So let’s get cracking — and caulking!

Household Gadgets
Grab your reusable shopping bag and head to your local home improvement store for simple household gadgets that can shave hundreds off your electricity bills. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recommends starting with the following items.

Photo of a low-flow shower head by trenttsd's via Flickr

Photo of a low-flow shower head by trenttsd’s via Flickr

• Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs): Swap standard light bulbs for energy efficient CFLs. Look for the Energy Star label to ensure you’re purchasing lights tested for quality and longevity.

• Water heater blankets: While most water heaters come with a minimal level of insulation, water heater blankets are inexpensive and, according to the Mother Nature Network, can knock up to 9 percent off your winter heating bill.

• Low-flow shower heads and faucet fixtures: Keep the energy used to heat water from going down the drain by replacing old models with new low-flow shower heads and fixtures. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates a a cost savings in water alone of up to 60%.

Windows and Lighting
Strategic enhancements to your home like these can save you money in the short-term while increasing your property value in the long-term.

Photo of eco-friendly bamboo blinds by Nomadic Lass via Flickr

Photo of eco-friendly bamboo blinds by Nomadic Lass via Flickr

• Fill the gaps: Gaps around windows and doors are literally leaking money. The NRDC estimates that leaks in a typical American house are equivalent to a 3-foot-by-3-foot hole in the wall. Install weather strips to seal cracks and holes, attach weather-sealing door sweeps to the bottoms of doors, caulk around windows and seal loose window panes with window putty.

• Cover window strategically: Cut down on your air conditioning costs by installing light-blocking window shades. Opt for Eco-friendly bamboo blinds that are custom cut to fit your windows. You might also consider tinted window film on a particularly sunny sides of your home.

• Plant energy-saving trees: Plant a tree and save cash in the long run. Strategically planted shade trees can save you upwards of 20% on your energy bills, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. Remember to take into account water and care requirements before you start digging.

Photo of a ceiling fan by Steve A Johnson via Flickr

Photo of a ceiling fan by Steve A Johnson via Flickr

Cooling and Heating
A study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Berkeley Laboratory, reported that a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system eats up almost half of the American household’s annual utility bill. Follow these tips for cutting costs:

• Install ceiling fans: For the same electricity use as a 100-watt light bulb, ceiling fans are a low-cost way to keep your home more comfortable in the summer. The cool air circulated by a ceiling fan allows you to turn the thermostat down by a few degrees, cutting dollars from your monthly electricity bill.

• Change filters: It’s a dirty job, but well worth the effort. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends changing the air filters in your heating and cooling system monthly. Dirt and neglect can lead to inefficient operation and ultimately, equipment failure.

• Schedule check-ups: Have your local heating and air conditioning contractor conduct annual system tune-ups. Energy Star recommends scheduling your cooling system in the spring and your heating systems in the fall.

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Announcing the Winner of the 2013 Green Thumb Challenge Grant!

Green Thumb LogoCongratulations to the winner of the grant –Tappan Middle School (Ann Arbor, MI), the 4 finalists, and everyone who applied for the grant this year. We received over 150 amazing applications from across the country which demonstrates just how impactful gardening can be on the lives of students and their communities.

Read about the winning project and view the garden projects of the finalists on GEF’s website.

The four finalists will each receive children’s gardening books, reusable shopping bags, seed packets and other assorted prizes. The winner will receive a $1,000 check for their outstanding effort. Tappan Middle School will use the funds from the grant in several ways, including recruiting and training 8th grade student to visit 6-7 grade classes to highlight the garden and after school club as well as purchasing supplies for seedling distribution and after school sale.

The Green Thumb Challenge Grant is an annual contest for school and youth gardens across the nation. The award is designed to support the continued sustainability of an exceptional youth garden program that has demonstrated success, and has impacted the lives of kids and their community.

Agrarian_Picture2Since 2004 the Agrarian Adventure has brought together teachers, community members, and parents to serve the students at Tappan Middle School in Ann Arbor Michigan. The greenhouse at Tappan Middle School is a foundational resource for district-wide education programming and a unique school resource in all of Washtenaw County.

The flagship activity at Tappan is an after-school cooking and gardening youth enrichment program put on by their Food and Garden Club. Over the years the club has nurtured awareness of food culture and connected hundreds of students to the sources of their food. Some key community impacts of the club are growing and distributing seedlings for school gardens in the district, as well as, the student-run seedling sale, a club fundraiser.

Agrarian_Picture1In their grant application the school cited that over the last two years the number of AAPS school gardens has almost doubled, and thus the demand for seedlings and schoolyard garden consultation has also increased. To meet these needs, a vibrant Food and Garden Club is now needed more than ever. We want to “go deeper” with consistent outreach to more students, to raise food awareness, conduct early season greenhouse cultivation, and impart hands-on agricultural skills such as seedling distribution, sales and marketing.


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