These tips for greener school & college are ideal to help leave a lighter carbon footprint. In fact, the fact that these buildings are likely larger, means the benefits are immense and payback time much shorter (for instance, a solar roof on a house takes year to pay back, but for a school, it won’t be long before it’s selling excess energy back to the grid).
- EcoOutfitters was set up by two mothers who wanted an alternative to crease-resistant Teflon coatings (toxic to birds, and harmful to health and the planet). Most children wear school uniforms for 35 hours a week, and conventional fabrics can trigger eczema. The range includes blouses, shirts, skirts, trousers, gingham dresses, skirts with braces, socks, knee-highs socks, tights and cardigans.
- Sign up to Green Schools Project. This is a program that lets your school work through various projects, to help green up your school.
- Remarkable makes pens & pencils from discarded items. Use with recycled stationery.
- Most children at school now apparently drink bottled water, rather than tap. Install a Frank Water Cooler to serve filtered tap water, and profits help provide fresh clean water for children in India.
- Most school accidents happen at the gates, when lots of cars are congregated together. Set up safe routes to schools (which could include a walking bus, with volunteers either end. Use solar bus stops.
- Digital Frog is the gold-standard digital software, as an alternative to dissection. Taking frogs from the wild is cruel and dissected frogs are often covered in formaldehyde. Digital frog experiments can also be repeated over and over.
- Solar panels on school roofs have quick payback time, and some offer grants or loans. If you follow energy-saving advice, you can sell excess energy.
- Cyclehoop makes award-winning cycling parking spaces, which can fit more cycles into one place. Their Cycle Parking Rentals Scheme is used by councils nationwide, with items sold in 16 countries.
The Plant-Based College Cookbook is perfect for busy students, with 150 recipes and kitchen tips on how to skip the dining hall and eat a better diet yourself. Recipes include Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffin, Creamy Carrot Smoothie, Vegan Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Mango Citrus Salsa, Peanut Butter Cups and Cocoa-Nut-Coconut No-Bake Cookies.
What we can learn from Montessori (an educational system developed by Italy’s first medical doctor, Maria Montessori) is that children don’t need to be online as much as you think. Unlike most schools, Montessori schools work very differently. What’s interesting is that they don’t touch computers until much later on, yet still catch-up very easily, often graduating with better academic records.
Montessori is based on the philosophy that children are naturally creative, and like to learn in their own time. Rather than rows of desks, a Montessori classroom has cubby holes, where children can go off and learn what they feel like at the time – whether that’s painting or using an abacus, reading poetry or learning science. The teacher is trained to move in, when necessary, to help.
What’s also different is that different age groups are in one class. So you may have a child who is helping a younger child, and asking for help from an older child. For this reason, Montessori children often grow up to become good teachers.
Regarding the zero waste lifestyle, Montessori toys and games are based on reality. So you would never give a child a ‘play iron’ to pretend she is ironing like her mother. But you would give her a wooden spoon, to actually help mix the batter to make cake.
Montessori schools are privately run. So you can’t afford it, read How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way, for inspiration. Although he gives support to Montessori schools, one child who bucks the idea that the system always raises creative adults is Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon. He is gradually killing off everything to do with independence and creativity, so something obviously did not quite go to plan there.
These Montessori-inspired balancing stones are made from wood, inspired by the ancient Japanese game of Tumi-ishi. CE certified, for children age 3+, use with supervision and keep away from younger children and pets. They teach hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, observation, logic and creativity. Just stack, build, balance or turn stones into mystical lands (rocks, icebergs, deserts).
The toy is suitable for Montessori education, to inspire open-ended play. The set consists of 10 unique stones of different shapes and colours. Made to order. Sold in an eco-friendly Kraft box safely tucked in wood wool (shaved wood), care instructions included. Also in Natural and Earthy Tones.
How to prevent school bullying is even more important these days, in an age of social media. If you thought you had it bad in the school playground, just imagine what life must be like for children who are bullied today, in a world that never turns off.
So what has this got to do with the natural world? Everything, really. We now live in a culture where children can be bullied for not wearing the right designer trainers, not being the right colour, size, height, shape (some children with gorgeous red hair have even committed suicide due to bullying).
It suggests that we now live in such a corporate mono-culture that anyone perceived as ‘different’ is not allowed to fit in (red hair, black skin, overweight, acne, shy etc). The same happens within workplace bullying.
- Ask your school to install Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. This effective program (invented by a Scandinavian psychologist) brings zero tolerance to bullying in schools. For schools unable to afford the program, you can buy the program.
- ReThink is a free app created by an Indian teen, who was upset at teen suicides, due to bullying. It reads ‘offensive content’ that asks the reader not to send it (93% don’t, preventing suicides).
- Bark App costs £50 to £100 per year (depending on age, with a free trial). Created with youth, child psychologists, law enforcement and digital media – this non-intrusive app monitors texts, emails, YouTube and over 30 social networks, so you can block certain areas of concern. In the US, it has prevent many suicides and over 50 school shootings.
- Man Down is a guide for men on mental health. What makes this book interesting is that the author was recently in the news, after meeting the man (then boy) who had made his life miserable through years of bullying. It turned out the former bully had been following the author on social media, interested in how his life turned out, as he felt so guilty. They did not become friends, but it was still healing.
Let’s look after our students, because they have had a real bum deal in recent years. First they got their university tuition fees taken away, so that now people on low incomes, find it harder to claw themselves out of poverty. Next, they had to be isolated from families.
Often students have to live in damp housing with dodgy landlords, and on graduating, will be the generation that has to deal with climate change issues. It’s no wonder that many students are stressed, depressed and broke. Some even drop out of courses.
Also read Stuff Students Should Know (a handy book on how to make a meal, plan a budget, proof read an essay, write a CV, plan a revision timetable and arm you with skills for the real world). Student Hacks is another book of 130 hints, to make life easier. From how to listen to lectures in half the time, to stop beer bottles toppling over in the fridge!
- Stay Happy While You Study is by clinical psychologist Lauren Callaghan, who says a bit of self-care is in order. Yes your studies and social life are important, but also plan ahead and navigate your way through unique pressures, to feel better, and get better results. Also read Stay Organised.
- Stay Financially Healthy While You Study is by the founder of Blackbullion, the digital financial educational platform. Vivi Friedgut explores budgeting and money and offers practical tips and useful exercise to keep you out of dead.
- Stay Balanced While You Study is by mental health specialist Dr Dominique Thompson, who explores issues around leaving home, exam stress, socialising, safety, sex and drugs.