Monday, September 7, 2009

5 Tips on How to Encourage Students to Live Green

(Today we have returning guest blogger, Donna Scott. Donna went to school and graduated from UH in Houston as an English major. Then she worked in a PR Firm in Houston but decided it wasn't for her and now freelances for an online education website. Thank you Donna for another great post!)

When I was a high school student, I had an environmental science teacher who was expectedly passionate about lessening our impact on the planet. I had learned about it all before in other classes: the graphs, the statistics, the figures, and the blurry videos of landfills and decimated forests. Yet, I still was not convinced that green living was something I should have been concerned about. But my environmental science teacher changed my views, and year after year, she inspired legions of impressionable young minds to be more environmentally friendly. Follow these 5 easy tips, and you can do the same.

1. Take baby steps. Stress that becoming an eco-friendly person does not mean drastically altering day-to-day life. Students, just like any other person, are resistant to change, so emphasizing that being green does not require a complete remodeling of their lives is comforting. Start by asking students to recycle, and install a recycling bin in the classroom. Lead by example and dispose of your own recyclables in the bins.

2. Talk about living green. Keep reminding your students about living green by talking about the latest in green technology and what you have done for the environment. Ask for others to tell their stories about what they have done.

3. Assign green side projects. Whether for extra credit or just because, assign green side projects, asking students to do one simple eco-friendly act over the weekend. This can be anything from recycling to riding a bike instead of driving.

4. Start a garden. If your school has an unused plot of land, ask if you can start a garden or wildflower sanctuary there. Bring the students to the garden at the beginning of the school year and then again at the end. They will see the progress of growth that a few months can bring, reminding them of the wonder of nature. My environmental science teacher had a wildflower and blackberry patch behind the football field of our school. We were invited to pick the blackberries at the end of the year, and we all marveled at how a seemingly weedy and useless plot of grass had produced all those flowers and berries in just a few months.

5. Have a class plant. Parents will appreciate that it is less maintenance than a class pet. Send the plant home with a different student every weekend. Tell them to photograph it sitting on a sunny windowsill in their home. Many students will find they enjoy having the plant and may get a plant of their own. Plants are an undeniable symbol of the earth, and those who appreciate plants will usually also protect the planet.

This post was contributed by Donna Scott, who writes about the She welcomes your feedback at

Original image: 'Planet Earth (III)' by: Aaron Escobar


Meaghan said...

Leading by example is really one of the best things you can do! It gives your words more meaning. Nice ideas!

Unknown said...

In my opinion, I think taking baby steps is something to be kept in mind because based on my experience, whenever someone mentions anything on how to be more green, I end up putting it on the back burner, "Sounds too overwhelming, I'll just worry about it later". So by taking it one step at a time, it'll allow me to become more present. Focus on laying each brick as perfectly as you can before becoming worried about the final construction of a house right?

Growing a garden is also another great idea. Not only will it allow students to be more eco-conscious, but they'll also be given the opportunity to become more in-tuned with the beautiful essence of nature.