The planet is in the midst of an ongoing climate crisis. Sustainable development is not just a goal for countries, but a mandate for each individual. The consequences of climate change will directly affect our future generations. Therefore, not only should children be made aware of environmental concerns, but they should also be empowered to mitigate and prevent climate-related problems.
While families must include students in gardening and nurturing life on the planet, educational institutions must also step up their efforts to instill a climate-conscious mindset. Schools need to incorporate green habits from the earliest years and consistently encourage and engage students in practicing them. Try to incorporate these habits into your classroom and school routines to remind and reiterate the importance of sustainability:
Start with very simple habits that fit into our daily routines. Schools can model these habits, remind students by adding painted messages (not paper posters) to school walls, and appreciate classrooms or students who demonstrate exemplary behavior in reducing the carbon footprint during the annual showcases.
- Switch off: Have students turn off lights, fans, and electronics in the classroom when not in use. Reminders can be placed in schools at relevant locations for students to self-behaving. Most schools leave the computers in the labs on all day. Although a small gesture, it is imperative that schools consistently model the “power off” mode in every space.
- Switch off: Students should take the stairs, walk or cycle whenever possible. Encouraging students to stand up might be a simple idea, but it helps reduce carbon emissions in a modest way.
- No plastic zone: Have students bring reusable water bottles to and from school to avoid buying plastic bottles. Encourage home-cooked foods and plastic-free packaging such as beeswax wraps, cloth wraps, and newspapers. By educating students about the generation of plastic waste in schools and demonstrating how a practice can yield effective results, lasting change can be made in the plastic habits of children and their families.
- Buy less, reuse more: From school supplies to clothing – educating on the benefits of reuse saves money while helping the environment. The new generation was born in the era of fast fashion and the latest trends. Objects lose their meaning faster than they gain relevance. Having conversations around the effect of inorganic waste and the benefits of material reuse must be the new trend that never goes out of style!
The big ones:
- Green lunch: In addition to the importance of a healthy and nutritious diet, educate students on the practice of green lunches. Avoiding packaged food and carrying reusable cutlery are easy ways to be environmentally conscious. Cut fruits and dried fruits are a healthier snack alternative that produces only organic waste. Students, especially younger ones, should be reminded not to waste food and practice sharing instead to eliminate any food waste. Also encouraging “green meals” in school canteens can help communicate the common message of reducing food waste.
- Waste segregation: Schools should invest in recycling bins and encourage students to sort their waste at all times. By simply investing in a set of bins for each floor or wing of the school, students can be reminded to pay more attention to both the amount of waste they create and the amount that is non-biodegradable or non-recyclable. . These physical and visual reminders can go a long way.
- Advocacy: The most essential green habit to teach students is advocacy for a sustainable future. In addition to the school being a model for such habits, schools also need to shine a light on the rationale for being green. Students should learn about the Sustainable Development Goals, the policies their countries have to achieve them, and the effects of each action on the planet’s carbon cycle. Although it may seem daunting to talk about all the threats to the planet, acknowledging children as stakeholders and by
Reversing the harmful impact of human activities on the environment is an impossible task for a generation. At the same time, it is important to try to reverse them and not make the same mistakes again to prevent the situation from getting worse. Does your school want to take up this challenge?
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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