DECEMBER 2006 NEWSLETTER
Green Gifts, No Toxic Toys, and School Greening for the New Year!
We at the Green Schools Initiative wish all of you a healthy and happy holiday! We are inspired by the momentum that is building to make our schools healthy, safe, and sustainable. In the past year, we have worked with many schools that are making tangible changes that demonstrate the ease and effectiveness of "going green." In this newsletter, we profile the K-12 Head Royce School in Oakland. Can you imagine the difference we can make together if ALL schools are green? I can! Read more below for how you can green your school.
Please consider making a donation to the Green Schools Initiative to support our work to protect children's health at school by going to our Donate Now page. For other green gift ideas and toxic toys to avoid read on... Thank you for all that you do!
Thank you to Noel Vietor for writing most of this month's E-Newsletter. A joyful holiday to all!
GREEN GIFT IDEAS
It’s crunch time for holiday gift buying and you may think you’re out of ideas. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled the best green gift guides around and the options are endless!
Treehugger.com has a section dedicated to eco-friendly presents for kids, featuring such gems as a “Tofu Bear” made from Soysilk and heart-shaped “Crazy Crayons” constituted entirely by melted crayon stubs.
In light of our article on the dangers of toys leaching chemicals below, check out Ecomall’s index of online retailers of non-toxic toys for tots.
If you’re thinking less materially, Environmental Defense has great suggestions for “intangible presents that deliver green good long after the holidays (and won’t end up in a clutter in your closet)” such as buying carbon offsets or a national parks pass.
NEW GREEN READ! GAIA GIRLS
This month we recommend Lee Welles’ Enter the Earth, the first in a planned seven-book series aimed at kids nine and up called Gaia Girls (published by Chelsea Green, 2006). Treehugger.com describes it thus: “Following in the vein of Nancy Drew, the Babysitters Club, and, dare I say it, Harry Potter, the ‘Gaia Girls’ series is the next group to offer heroes battling modern day villains for the kid with an eco-conscience.”
The series will feature four girls, each endowed with magical powers over one of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. All are approached for help by Gaia, the living organism of Earth, and must learn to use their powers to save the planet from the destructive forces of modern humanity.
Author Lee Welles presents her young heroines with very real environmental and social justice problems (in Enter the Earth, the main character Elisabeth must combat a factory farm threatening to overcome her rural town), but frames them in an imaginative and spellbinding way that kids will love. The series can be a fantastic point of entry for engaging kids in real-world environmental issues while promoting a sense of wonder about Nature.
For teachers looking to introduce or liven up an environmental program, consider integrating the Gaia Girls series into the classroom (possibly in a cross-curricular format for English and science). This is just the kind of book we need for getting kids excited about the environment.
The first volume, Enter the Earth, can be purchased in hardcover with 38 lovely illustrations at http://www.chelseagreen.com/2006/items/entertheearth.
1. School Garden Funding: Applications available January 29, 2007
School Garden funds are available! The California Department of Education has $15 million appropriated for school gardens in public and charter schools. It is offering grants of $2500 and up to $5000 (for schools with more than 1000 students) for garden equipment, supplies and professional development/teacher training. Grants can be spent over three years, until June 2009.
Applications will be
available the week of January 29, 2007 and will be due March 26, 2007. Get applications at the California Department of Education's website, www.cde.ca.gov/fg/fo/. Local Educational Agencies (i.e. districts, county offices of education, state board of charter schools) must apply on behalf of all school sites within the LEA. So, you need to get organized NOW! Contact your district or LEA if you are interested.
2. CA Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) and the Emergency Repair Program
Green Schools Initiative, Community Action to Fight Asthma, and California Department of Health Services participated in the State Allocation Board Implementation Committee Meeting on November 20, 2006 regarding implementation of the $800 million Emergency Repair Program and the good repair standard. The OPSC is open to strengthening the regulations and guidelines to better include school indoor environmental quality. In addition, we are working with OPSC to make information available on its website regarding how to make emergency repairs using environmentally-preferable materials and methods to improve indoor environmental quality. In 2007, we will continue to work with OPSC on developing a new rating system and user instructions for the Permanent Evaluation Instrument that schools in California will be required to use (or an equivalent assessment tool) so that it will adequately assess indoor environmental quality and hazardous materials. These efforts will help to safeguard the health of children and staff while at school, especially the million-plus people in California suffering from asthma.
Find out if your school is eligible for Emergency Repair Program funds and what you can do about it, if you are in California and believe that your school facilities do not meet a standard of good repair: http://www.greenschools.net/news/BacktoSchoolTips.htm
Visit our Take Action page to send an email supporting a strong good repair standard.
3. SAVE THE DATE: April 30, 2007 is National Healthy Schools Day!
The theme for National Healthy Schools Day this year is Green Cleaning. Watch our website for news and information about how to help your school switch to green, non-toxic cleaners. Save the date for planning an event or celebration at your school to raise awareness and take actions for healthy, safe, and sustainable schools!