Advocacy
How—and Why—to Form a Green School Committee

How—and Why—to Form a Green School Committee

September 25, 2013

By Gigi Lee Chang, Chief Executive Officer

Few schools are environmentally perfect, and yours likely has few toxic skeletons in its closet. It could be as simple as an unhealthy lunch menu or as serious as pesticide overuse. Whatever the issues, the chances are also good that the school staff don’t have the time or resources to deal with it.

That’s where a green school committee comes in.

A green committee is a volunteer group dedicated to making school as safe and sustainable as it can be—a PTA for eco-concerns. The green committee’s role is to identify the school’s environmental problems, research solutions, and implement changes that create the healthiest possible surroundings. With both an exclusive purpose and the time to focus on it, a green committee can accomplish things that might otherwise go undone.

If your school already has a green committee, join it! If not, found one. Start by reaching out to parents and any school staff with environmental sympathies and inviting them to an organizational meeting. Try to get some school employees on board if only in an advisory capacity; “insiders” will help your group be taken seriously.

Once your green committee is formed, draw up a list of issues to address. Though you probably already have some in mind, talking to staff members and walking through the school is always a good idea. You never know what you might discover.

With your list assembled, vote on an issue to tackle. You might want to make the first one simple, like healthier vending machine selections or school-wide composting. Then again, there may be an issue so pressing that the choice is a no-brainer, like peeling lead paint or idling school buses.

Whatever you pick, a green committee tends to tackle jobs in two parts. Phase one is researching and compiling information that makes a convincing case for change. Phase two is finding and suggesting feasible solutions. The more details you have both in terms of your argument and its answers, the greater your odds of success.

Remember not to be adversarial! The goal is for the green committee and the school to work together toward outcomes that benefit the whole community. If the kids watch and get a lesson in cooperation and positive action, all the better.

Want to learn more about the surprising environmental hazards hiding in the average school and what else you can do about them? Explore our new free e-book, Easy Steps to Healthy Schools & Daycares.

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