When schools get it right …


… good things happen and we can make significant change.

For years, my office neighbour was the Science Program Consultant. He and I were constantly talking to each other (when we were together and not out in schools or leading workshops – but that’s another story) so I knew a great deal about his portfolio and he mine. We were each other’s critical ear which can be so important.

One initiative that he was champion of was Eco-Schools. He shared with me statistics guaranteed to scare the heck out of anyone and the various projects that would happen in schools. He most definitely changed the way I think about recycling and garbage. I can’t dispose of things now without thinking twice about where the appropriate place is. There are times when, if I can’t find a recycle place, I’ll keep things in my car and recycle it when I get home.

Thanks, Morguefile.

Recently, I checked into a hotel and upon getting my key was asked by the clerk “Would you like a bottle of water?”.

My response actually surprised me because it’s not like me to be this smart-alecky. Before I thought, I had blurted it out.

Why? Is there something wrong with the tap water?

That really isn’t me. My initial reaction was one of wanting to kick myself for saying it but then I felt good. You should never feel badly about doing the right thing. At the same time, I noticed people coming up to the other counter asking for two or three bottles. Geesh.

As it would happen, my room wasn’t ready so I checked my luggage and sat in the lobby, opening my laptop, and connecting to the free wifi. Shortly, I had a desire for a coffee and so went to the one down the hall and got one. When I was done, I looked about for a recycling container. They should be easy to find; they’re bright blue!

I didn’t see one and didn’t actually see a garbage can either! Obviously, this was by plan just like the free water. It’s to set a certain environment – the water to give you a sense of getting something for nothing. The lack of garbage and recycling to keep the place looking clean.

Eventually, I got my room and carried my empty cup with me. Alas, there was no recycling in my room either but there were a couple of waste baskets.

I guess, once you’ve got a habit, it’s pretty hard to change it. I made myself a note to blog about this so here it is. Yeah, for all the kicks that education get, we do a lot of things right. So often, we talk about the “real world” but maybe it’s not as perfect as it might be.

As it would happen, I stumbled upon this story. It’s a challenge to the schools in the United Kingdom but it could be to any school.

Stop Laminating! –
Schools challenged to go single-use plastic free by 2022

Now, that water bottle could be recycled so that it’s not a single-use but you have to have a way to do it in public places. We definitely do that in schools. I hope that your school recycles more than it garbages.

What can we education do to business to encourage the same? For today, maybe not anything that’s going to be earth shattering. But look at all those faces in your classroom. They are the future; they’re learning now and will lead the way when they get jobs and can set expectations there.

If only we could speed up the process.

More ECO Things


Working with my colleague Don at the ECO Schools presentation was great and also changed a number of the ways that I think about things.

Of course, there was the computer element of things. We’re incredibly proud of the SMART Board activity and the satellite images of the school properties as they go about planning for greening, and not necessarily beautification. The activity forces students and schools to look critically at the big picture and plan for the future. After all, what’s the point of planting a row of trees that has to be removed later on because they interfere with the soccer field?

There were two personal takeways from the presentation for me. The first was the number of refrigerators that a school board has to have to do its business. The second one was that you could recycle cardboard coffee cups. Now, we know that there are refrigerators everywhere and for good reason. Lunch, breakfast programs, chemical storage, etc.

One of the rites of teaching is the ability to drink coffee to get you through all night marking sessions. Or, closer to my heart, staying awake through one of my presentations! 😉

So, proudly, I’m able to share this picture with you. Lined up like soldiers, these recycling bins are ready to accept can, bottles, paper, and now recycled coffee cups right outside our Professional Development room.

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