Expand Your Eco-Influence- page 2 | EcoCenter | Smithsonian

Expand Your Eco-Influence

What can you do to reduce water consumption?

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Whatever steps you take will have an impact on the environment.  And since greening is first about conservation, you’ll likely have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line as well.  A win-win!

The Children Are Our Future

They are also our now. There are more than 61 million children between the ages of 5 and 19 in the US – that’s a lot of school supplies and sack lunches. To help reduce that blow, the Go Green Initiative has designed a program to promote environmental responsibility on school campuses, nationwide. By bringing together parents, students, teachers and administrators, the program creates a united front against climate change. A comprehensive, customizable program, the Go Green Initiative provides all of the resources you need to get going, including a planning guide, communication templates, training, and even access to funding.

Speaking of funding, schools across the nation face budget shortfalls every year. Many schools turn to fundraising to mitigate those shortfalls. Now, you can look to other schools for ideas that help the environment at the same time. Take PS321 in Brooklyn, NY, for example. Their cell phone drive will keep at least some of the 125 million discarded phones out of landfills. That’s important, because phones (and other electronic waste) contain toxins that can leach into the earth and groundwater.

Another idea revolves around the concept of “sponsored waste” as created by TerraCycle, those folks who came up with organic fertilizer made from worm poop and sold in reclaimed containers (yes, it’s real, and it’s spectacular!) TerraCycle now pays schools, non-profits and community groups to collect packaging from partner companies like Capri Sun, Stonyfield Farm and Clif Bar. TerraCycle then upcycles the drink pouches into tote bags and pencil cases, and the yogurt containers into planters. Clif Bar wrappers are molded into a new material to be used to make backpacks and gym totes. Schools can earn from 2 to 5 cents for each container sent in. What a great way to “close the loop”, and get paid doing it!

But, some habits die hard, and sending your children out to knock on doors hawking crap seems to be one of them, for some reason. If you need help transitioning from selling the same ole candy bars and wrapping paper, check out Global Goods Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping schools raise money through the sale of handmade, fair-trade goods like stationery, scarves, and jewelry. Revenue from their artistic offerings assist communities in the areas of economic empowerment, education, health, and women’s rights. Plus, everything is available for purchase online, saving many young knuckles.

Or, look for a program that encourages people to try new green brands, like Southern California’s Fundraising Green. This organization has assembled a book of coupons, redeemable for discounts on eco-friendly alternatives to common brand-name products and services. After all, do we really need any more cookies? No! (Unless they are Thin Mints. Or Tagalongs. But you get the point.)

College Campuses: More Than Just Frats and Keggers

On university campuses across the nation, students are actively voicing their environmental concerns, and are spearheading changes on their campuses. From constructing green buildings to installing more bike racks, changes big and small are taking place on campuses across the country.

Last year, GE and mtvU sponsored a contest for students with the most innovative, groundbreaking idea for campus greening winning $25,000. After more than 100 entries were judged on ecology, imagination, and economics, an MIT team took the top prize. Their idea? The team proposed the construction and management of a solar-powered processor to convert waste vegetable oil to biodiesel, reducing the school’s energy costs and environmental footprint. Well done!

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