Happy National Healthy Schools Day
Today is National Healthy Schools Day. A day to learn, discuss, and implement healthier and safer practices in our nation’s school. Eliminating toxic chemicals and taking on more environmentally friendly standards isn’t always simple, but there are several ways to get started. Here are three.
(1) Get your children involved: Our kids are pretty damn good detectives and like to ask a lot of great questions, so make sure they play a lead role in developing goals and making changes at their school. A good first semester goal is to survey all the cleaning products used throughout the school and help your facility team find products that are less toxic. Students can also help make sure that cleaning products from home aren’t brought into school, as this is much more common than many people realize. In order to get people on board, it could be fun for the students in the environmental club to come up with a creative advertising campaign.
But the bottom line is that in order to help instill a sense of civic duty and environmental stewardship, students must be part of the entire process from brainstorming goals and ideas to implementation and speaking at school district meetings. We learn from doing not by being told what to do.
(2) Get yourself involved: Little girls are born with all of their eggs and when they attend a school that exposes them to toxic chemicals the life of their reproductive system is being compromised. We must be active in our children’s health and safety by understanding what chemicals are being used inside the school they attend every day. Is there mold? Is the water clean? Are their sources of pollution nearby?
Talk to your child’s teachers and the other parents about eliminating toxic chemicals and protecting your children. Create a small informational flyer that discusses childern’s special vulnerabilities. Introduce a safe school siting or green cleaning policy in your school district. Get to know the people on your school board and make sure they understand the true impacts of exposing your children to chemicals. Get involved by finding out what chemical policies already exist in your school district and state then stay involved by helping to eliminate them.
(3) Eliminate the greenwash: Greenwashing isn’t a term that has completely entered our everyday lexicon, but having celebrated Earth Day just last week and National Healthy Schools Day today, it’s a term that deserves some attention. Greenpeace describes greenwashing as “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service”
When big companies spend a lot of money trying to tell you that their one or two niche products are environmentally friendly, you should be suspicious. When choosing products to bring into your school, look at the big picture. How is the product made? What else does the company make? Will they take responsibility for the end of life of the product like laptops or printers? Where do they make the products and the chemicals used in the product? Many people are unaware that most chemicals are made in low-income communities of color who are being poisoned by the manufacturing process or the dumps that these chemicals leech out of when thrown away. Ask tough questions and refuse to be greenwashed.
Today is National Healthy Schools Day. It’s a great day to talk to your children about the importance of eliminating toxic chemicals from your home, school and bodies.
For a toxic free future,