Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

By Emily Raij, Maupin House

America’s Greenest Campus is a nationwide contest where colleges compete to see who can reduce their carbon footprint by the greatest amount. There are 450 colleges participating to win up to $20,000 in cash prizes, and the contest, which launched March 31, has already achieved the following environment-saving successes:

  • $1.5 million saved
  • 5.9 million pounds of CO2 avoided, the equivalent of taking 500 passenger vehicles off the road or the annual energy use of 250 homes
  • 1.6 million kWh of energy reduced
  • 5.2 million gallons of water saved
  • 39,000 gallons of gasoline saved

The contest is a partnership between SmartPower, a clean energy and energy efficiency marketing organization, Climate Culture, an online carbon measurement and reduction utility, and the U.S. Department of Energy. It runs through October 5, 2009, with winners announced on October 12, 2009. For more information, visit www.smartpower.org, www.letsgetenergysmart.com, and www.climateculture.com, or access the Climate Culture Facebook Application at apps.facebook.com/climate_culture.

As NSSEA members, we’re always interested in how we can make a difference when it comes to education. What about the environment? Maybe your company has already taken steps to “green” its office or its products. If not, here are some suggestions you can try, from baby steps to a deeper commitment:

  1. Start a recycling program in your office. This can be as basic as putting out bins for recyclables that someone volunteers to take care of each week or starting an official pick-up program with your county/city.
  2. Make use of waste paper. Try shredding some of the paper to use as packaging material, use blank sides as scratch paper, print on both sides, and recycle what you don’t use.
  3. Print and copy less. Do you need to print or copy every email, contract, manuscript, quote and proposal? Then don’t! You’ll limit the clutter on your desk and the planet. Consider adding a signature to your email that asks recipients to consider the environment before printing.
  4. Stop using plastic water bottles. There’s no reason why a reusable bottle won’t quench your thirst at the office all day. And you can replace paper and plastic bags with reusable ones as well.
  5. Carpool, walk, or ride your bike to work. This is an oldie but a goodie—even if you go car-less for one day per week, you’ll be making a huge difference over the course of a year
  6. Opt for recycled materials for your print and manufacturing jobs. Catalogs, books, plastic and metal parts, and much more can be created from recycled materials. Soy-based inks are become more common as well. There are more options than ever before, and you don’t have to sacrifice quality for conscience. You can even let customers know about your green efforts by putting an FSC Mixed Sources label on your catalog or books.
  7. Partner with a local environmental organization, chamber of commerce or school. Try starting your own city-wide contest or sponsoring a charity benefit for an environmental cause. If you work in higher education, maybe you can get involved with America’s Greenest Campus!

If you have other green business tips, please post them to the blog!

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The Selling of the Green

Rebecca Haden

A Plus Educational Supply, Harrison, AR


Market researchers tell us that 30% of American consumers now make buying decisions based on environmental issues. These are the green consumers, and their numbers are growing, especially among the under-50 crowd who make up the bulk of the teacher shoppers.

Green consumers have different buying patterns. They choose to shop with companies that are ecologically conscious. They may buy fewer things (conspicuous consumption is so over) but will pay more for them if they’re convinced that there’s a good reason for the price difference.

 They still want convenience, though – most green consumers don’t want to search for eco-friendly goods. This means that when you show that you’re an ecologically responsible company and make it easy for them to make the choices they prefer, you’ve got a good chance of gaining their loyalty.

First, of course, you have to be an ecologically responsible company. Here are some steps to take in that direction:

·         Use fuel-efficient vehicles for deliveries and business travel. Have a car magnet made up (companies like Vista Print do this) that announces that you’re doing so.

·         Replace some driving to meetings with online meetings using Google Docs or Adobe’s screensharing options.

·         Use reusable products like cleaning cloths instead of paper towels or coffee mugs instead of Styrofoam cups. When you can’t go that way, use recycled products whenever possible.

·         Recycle in the office and store. Do it visibly, with labeled bins. Recycling is the darling of the school environmental education component, for better or worse, so this is key.

·         Move toward a paperless or paper-light office. Get out of the habit of printing out emails and filing them, printing multiple copies of meeting agendas (just email them instead), etc.

·         Switch to online billing to save an average of 171 pounds a year of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Intercept EFT’s Go Green Initiative. Services like SmartPay make this easy.

·         Use paper sacks rather than plastic, and tell customers why. Go a step further and sell reusable cloth or string bags for shopping – no teacher ever has too many tote bags, anyway.

·         Use less-toxic chemicals for office and cleaning needs.  While market research shows that consumers (in this case, that’s you and me) tend to believe that natural cleaners are less effective, chemical tests say we’re wrong.

Make sure your customers know that you’re taking these steps, and why. Announce these things in your company blog or newsletter (email newsletter, perhaps?), put up posters in your store explaining it, and get in the habit of mentioning it to customers.

Once you’ve established yourself in your customers’ minds as the green choice for school supplies, make sure you highlight the eco-friendly shopping choices you offer. Toys made of highly-renewable bamboo, low fume and nontoxic art supplies, and recycled paper goods are probably all on your shelves already. Just make the point that they are environmentally responsible choices.

Greening up the shop is a marketing move you can feel especially good about – it transcends economically uncertain times and puts you on the leading edge, while also simply being the right thing to do.

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In the past 2 months, the cost of gas has whittled down, averaging $3.88 a gallon nationally, as opposed to a more than $4.00 a gallon national high in June. Despite a (temporary?) relief from record high prices, some high schools are taking a tip from colleges around the country to encourage environmental friendliness by cutting back on fuel consumption.


Hanover Park High School in East Hanover, NJ has moved to increase bike ridership with a proposal to implement more bike racks and speed limit signs, as a safety measure, around the campus. A carpooling system is also in development, not only to decrease car traffic but reduce fuel consumption.


Howards Grove High School in Howards Grove, WI is undergoing a $100,000 project to create a walking and biking path to the school. The plan’s expected fall 2009 implementation will likely boost environmental awareness and possibly encourage health consciousness in the process as students get an early workout during the morning’s trek to first period. Three California high schools are considering replacing buses with bikes as transportation for fieldtrips to save on gas and promote physical activity.


To read the USA Today article in full, click http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-08-06-Outofcars_N.htm.


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Though yellow on the outside, school buses in Texas could soon be sporting a much greener look.


School districts in East Texas could be on track to go a little greener if a decision to replace diesel-fueled school buses with propane-fueled buses is implemented. Although the initial costs of the propane buses—$8,000 more than diesel buses—might put a pinch on the budget, the move would most assuredly cut costs in the long-run.


Diesel fuel reached a national average of $4.72 a gallon as of July 21, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, while some Texas school districts using propane buses pay only about $1.25 a gallon.


Of Texas’ at least 39,000 school buses, about 12,000 are almost 20 years old and are good candidates to be replaced with propane buses.


Propane buses are environmentally safer, more fuel efficient and, in the long-run, more economical, but the switch would require school districts to invest in a fueling station. But the investment presents opportunities for reward: School districts that buy propane buses are eligible for not only a tax credit but a $12 million grant to expand their propane bus fleet.


Read the article in full:


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Green Schools

Singing a sweet tune of environmental consciousness, the House earmarked $20 billion over the next five years for states to build ‘green schools’ or improve existing ones with environmentally-friendly nips and tucks. As part of the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act passed Wednesday, $6.4 billion is approved for the 2009 fiscal year to update public schools to conform to more modern eco-friendly plans.


Green schools will have to meet energy standards set by either Green Star, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System or Collaborative For High Performance Schools.


Green schools use less energy, less water and reduce carbon emissions, not to mention the schools provide better lighting and temperature controls. More than a move to solely promote energy efficiency, green schools are linked to a safer and cleaner learning environment and reduce health risks like asthma and allergies. Certainly, green schools are more economical in the long run and would reduce a district’s school energy costs over time, but does the hefty price tag warrant such a massive change?


The robust $20 billion appropriation has incited a bipartisan tug-of-war (what’s new?) between Democrats, who largely support the legislation, and many Republicans who find issue with federal involvement in “education matters normally under the jurisdiction of states and local governments.” Contenders say the bill “would create an inappropriate and costly new federal role in modernizing and renovating public schools.”


Well, I’ll walk the tightrope on this one and avoid the red and blue tangle of party lines. My color of choice is green.


For the full AP article, click http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gkSkVjAAYA16nZI-ZD9TwgeTXzkQD913JNV04

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Happy 38th, Earth Day



In light of Earth Day’s 38th anniversary Tuesday, Sanford Upper School in Delaware implemented a wholly paperless day—a fitting homage since the “holiday’s” 1970 inception. A senior at the school initiated Paperless Day, proposing the school refrain from paper usage the entire day, in an effort to encourage a “greener” society. The student estimated about 2,400 sheets of paper were saved.


This was an admirable step for the school, and surely similar green-conscious initiatives will follow, but one day a year is just not enough.


Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it? But how often does it make us act? Sure, we’ve adopted the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, and we’re even doing that hip recycling thing, but not enough of us implement the ideals of environmental consciousness as lifestyle changes, rather than a temporary fix to a burgeoning environmental crisis. We exacerbate the problem of global warming, a thinning ozone layer and melting polar ice caps when we fail to act consciously.


Paul Brooks was right on the money in his 1971 observation in The Pursuit of Wilderness: “Today you can murder land for private profit. You can leave the corpse for all to see, and nobody calls the cops.” We’re not doing enough to conserve our environmental resources, and we’ll continue to pay the price.


A global society of waste can only sustain itself for so long, but old (wasteful) habits die hard…unless consequences follow. For starters, maybe businesses should face stiff financial penalties when they fail to recycle.


Well, let’s go retro and invoke the 70s vision of Earth Day—let’s protect our Earth. Too much to ask?

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