Ontario recycling initiative issues school challenge

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Average fourth-graders generate their weight in lunch room garbage annually, according to the Recycling Council of Ontario.

Bringing that number down is one of the environmental issues the province’s Back to School challenge is asking students to tackle this school year.

The initiative, championed by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, is a set of 10 eco-friendly ideas that students and parents can follow to reduce their eco-footprints.

Presidential Environmental Youth Award (PEYA)

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people across the U.S. for protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. Up to two awards – one for Grades K-5 and one for Grades 6-12—will be selected from each of EPA’s 10 regions for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, school groups, summer camps, and other youth organizations to promote environmental stewardship.

Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE)

This award recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning.   Award winners receive up to $2,500 to continue their professional development in environmental education. Additionally, the teacher’s local education agency will receive up to $2,500 to fund environmental educational activities and programs. Read about projects by previous winners at https://www.epa.gov/education/presidential-innovation-award-environmental-educators-piaee-winners.

Farm to cafeteria table: The new local food frontier

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The next time someone points to the need for more farmers’ markets as a way to help move local food from a trend to a substantive cultural shift, you might consider telling them about the power of institutional purchasing. It may sound less interesting and, on the surface, it certainly is. (Who doesn’t love buying purple carrots to the sound of a didgeridoo?) But bear with us.

Teaching Middle-Schoolers Climate Change Without Terrifying Them

Read the full story from NPR.

Vazquez’s students meet climate scientists in class and calculate how many desalination plants it would take to turn rising seas into a sustainable source of fresh water (too many).

There’s the work they’ve done on the school itself. On a walk around campus, Vazquez points out improvements her students instigated over the years or installed themselves: smart thermostats, energy-efficient light bulbs, and reflective white paint on the roof to keep the building cooler.

Finally, there are students like Penny Richards. She says after a year in Vazquez’s class, she reads climate news while she rides the bus to school.

In class, Bertha Vazquez says she tries to balance the fear that comes with taking climate science seriously, and measured optimism. She draws on examples of past environmental successes — like how the ozone layer is on the mend — to show what collective action can accomplish.

Learning the 4 R’s: Kansas City Area Students Strive to Reduce Food Waste

Read the full post from U.S. EPA.

About 95 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. That is a huge problem for our country. Over the last year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many great people to help schools in the Kansas City metro area understand more about food waste and what they can do to reduce it.

I really enjoy teaching the 4 R’s – refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle. “Refuse” means saying no to accepting unnecessary packaging, such as plastic bags. Kids get it. I also involve custodial and kitchen staff in the process. My focus is to help the school divert waste from the landfill, while remaining focused on not adding more work tasks to school staff.

In St. Louis schools, water fountains are symbols of inequality again

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Dangerous levels of lead in dozens of public schools have made the water undrinkable — but not for white, wealthy kids.