While there hasn’t been a shortage of school programs on recycling and the environment in the last 15 years, few have actually made a lasting impact.
But the grassroots Go Green Initiative and the Charter Oak Unified School District called on students, parents and local schools to join in on an environmental action plan focused more results and empowering the community in creating a collaborative culture of saving natural resources.
Jill Buck, the founder of the Go Green Initiative, spoke to parents and about 200 students, including students from Charter Oak, Duarte, Covina Valley, and West Covina school districts, on the importance of saving the earth’s resources and minimizing waste for future generations Thursday at Royal Oak Middle School in Covina.
Buck, a former Navy officer and now a green business advisor, wrote the Go Green Initiative in 2002 when the PTA mom noticed a lack of effective environmental programs in her children’s schools.
“The programs I saw were not comprehensive…they focused on one aspect such as recycling,” said Buck. “So in the absence of finding what I wanted, I wrote it.”
The program, which has been implemented in schools in all 50 states and 69 countries, promotes teaching students, parents and educators how to avoid waste, which Buck says costs school districts and taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
“Whether it’s wasting energy or trash…those are expenses that don’t help educate our children,” said Buck. “We can use the money we save in our classrooms and toward our teachers’ salaries.”
The program encourages students, parents, educators and all community stakeholders in working together toward a greener future.
This, said Buck, includes making sure schools set an example for the community as a role model in greener practices. Buck said the program encourages schools to negotiate cheaper waste hauling rates for recycling and provides conservation tips for all teachers to use in the classroom.
She said as schools practice green alternatives in everyday operations, it would foster a culture of conservation and recycling for future generations.
Buck asserts that the initiative is not another curriculum program to pile onto the workload of teachers.
Rather, she said, the environmental studies are integrated into the lesson plans.
“If it’s a history lesson on the Pilgrims, what a great opportunity to talk about growing your food and using available resources, because that’s exactly what the Pilgrims had to do to survive,” suggested Buck.
Buck said the program is free for all schools to develop their own green initiatives and action plans.
Charter Oak School Board member Bob Cruz said the district is exploring ways to achieve sustainability and less environmental waste.
He said the district has created a Green Team of administrators, PTA and school representatives in developing a green action plan for the entire district.
“A lot of our ideas have been pulled off from the Go Green Initiative,” said Cruz. “I like the idea of negotiating with our waste hauler. Maybe that’s something we can try for Charter Oak.”