Group of Children learn about recycling and sustainability on Field Trip

Civic engagement in environmental issues project-based learning can combine to help students create change in their own schools that to benefit the environment and their community, according to an article on the Getting Smart website.

A recent Stanford University review of more than 100 studies measuring the impact of environmental education found evidence that it builds emotional and social skills, improves environmentally friendly behavior and increases civic interest and ability to take action.

Schools that have implemented sustainability education often see the success of students’ community-wide efforts by inviting the surrounding community to be part of the process, the article said.

Educators are working beyond the classroom to foster environmental leadership. The annual Green Schools Conference and Expo (GSCE) leads conversations on sustainability education and empowering students to investigate and create change.

The cleaning industry can also do its part can also do their part to contribute to students’ environmental education.

For instance, CleanLink reported that in 2018, there was a a joint effort by staff members at EcoSafe, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, and WAXIE Sanitary Supply, San Diego, to work with school staff to drive sustainability efforts at Beulah Payne TK-6 Elementary School in Inglewood, California.

The partnership successfully eliminated waste through student education and streamlined waste management.

Efforts included a “Free the Napkin” campaign in which designated staff, known as “Eco Heroes,” taught students to begin trash sorting efforts at the cafeteria table. The Eco Heroes further ensured proper trash sorting by guiding students through the process at compost, recycling and landfill stations set up by WAXIE and EcoSafe.

WAXIE and EcoSafe also worked together to set up the indoor and outdoor eating areas with EcoStation collection stations with appropriate signage. In addition, they consulted the custodial staff to implement more efficient transportation of sorted trash from the eating areas to the school’s Dumpsters throughout the day.

Custodians commented that the EcoSafe program immediately reduced the amount of trips taken to and from the Dumpsters during lunchtime.

Prior to the program’s launch, approximately 30 to 40 bags of single-stream trash were collected each day. Within a day of starting the program, that number was reduced to just two bags of landfill.