National Green Week kicks off this week and runs through the end of April. Yes, I know that’s more than a week. The idea behind this annual campaign from the Green Education Foundation is to encourage schools to devote (at least) one week during this period to sustainability topics.
“By participating in National Green Week, students will learn that simple decisions such as the selection of waste-free snacks and drinks can combat monumental environmental problems,” says Victoria Waters, President and Founder, Green Education Foundation. “Children are in the best position to impact the future of our environment by developing green behaviors that become lifelong habits,” adds Waters.
The national non-profit organization offers educators free K-12 sustainability activities, videos, lessons and projects in six broad “sustainability themes”; and the lesson plans are arranged by subject and by grade level.
I Ride Green
The central goal of I Ride Green is to inspire families and individuals to develop lifelong habits for sustainable transportation and eco-travel that promote the health of the environment, the economy, and people. I Ride Green invites participants to start easy-to-adopt green habits that can lead to lifelong healthy behaviors.
Green Energy Challenge
The Green Energy Challenge is an academic year-long program that calls on schools to improve their energy efficiency through simple changes in habit. Participation includes free tools to teach and encourage behavior change, such as curricula, audits, and classroom activities. In 2011, over 250,000 students took on the role of energy auditors in their schools and homes and implemented changes that resulted in thousands of dollars in energy cost savings within just a few months.
Green Thumb Challenge
The Green Thumb Challenge connects children with nature through gardening while providing teachers the curriculum to incorporate sustainable gardening as a teaching tool in the classroom. The “turn-key” garden plan provides participants with beginner-friendly resources to plant gardens of any size, as well as fun activities and standards-based lessons.
Sustainable Water Challenge
The Sustainable Water Challenge aims to educate schools and groups on the current issues in water sustainability and the steps we need to take to help conserve Earth’s most precious resource. Through GEF’s resources, K-12 students and educators will learn the basic properties of water, water pollution and depletion, as well as methods for water conservation. The Sustainable Water Challenge provides information on a broad range of water topics for all grade levels. As students and educators become more aware and knowledgeable of the challenges facing Earth’s water supply, we can work together and do our part to reduce water consumption.
Waste Reduction Challenge
This program empowers students to be leaders of their own waste reduction campaign in their school or community. Schools chose any week between the first week in February through Earth Day to be their Green Week. During this time, schools adopt sustainability curriculum and participate in GEF eco-challenge programs. In 2011, over five million students mobilized to reduce waste, energy and water and green their school.
Green Building Program
The GEF Green Building Program educates K-12 students on green building attributes and benefits, and provides them with the strategies to take steps toward improving environmental inefficiencies within their own school building. Through lessons, audits, and activities students will cover topics including water and energy efficiency and environmental quality as they relate to building construction, operation and maintenance.
The Green Education Foundation worked with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools, numerous LEED accredited professionals and other experts in educational and sustainability fields to create the sustainability education materials. And while the National Green Week Challenge is GEF’s best known program, they have created an online community for teachers to provide feedback, share experiences, and even upload their own materials. If you are, or know, a teacher interested in sustainability, I highly recommend visiting the Green Education Foundation’s website, and participating in the National Green Week challenge.