It’s always a good time to go green.
I’ve been a teacher, in both elementary and middle school, for more than 20 years and teaching my students about the environment has always been something I’ve done. Over the years, my students have created a bird sanctuary, helped to save the monarch butterfly population, implemented a lunch composting program, increased school recycling efforts, and more.
Here are my suggested steps to start a green club at your school. Just add students!
STEP 1: Identify a cause and start small.
It can be tempting to start a green club without a lot of direction or projects in mind. But I recommend identifying a project (like building a butterfly garden) or cause (like increasing recycling) first. This will not only help give your students a focus, but it will show parents and administrators that this isn’t just some passing club that meets occasionally. You have goals, plans, and projects.
STEP 2: Embrace the survey process.
Part of creating a good club is eliciting feedback from those around you. Members of your green club might already know about sustainability, recycling, and the environment. Use their knowledge. Anytime my students start a new project, I encourage them to put together a survey (you can use free online tools like Survey Monkey) for fellow students and teachers to fill out. You can use this data to help guide your efforts.
STEP 3: Recruit school and community members.
You never know where you’ll find support when you’re planning to start a green club. When my students created a bird sanctuary a few years ago, we received all sorts of donations of bird feeders, seed, and other items just by asking local businesses. Don’t be afraid to identify your needs very clearly and then ask around about who might be able to help. Even if you’re having a fundraiser for a project, spread the word and ask for support.
STEP 4: Stay motivated and don’t go off task.
It’s so easy to get sidetracked by other projects you want to do, but try not to let it happen to your green club. Have students keep notes along the way so you can always go back and identify additional projects for future initiatives. But don’t let these sidetrack the current project. Also, keep your meetings and updates regular, even if there is not much to report on—it will help everyone stay on track.
STEP 5: Spread the word and share your progress.
This one is so important. Don’t forget to document your progress and share it with others. Social media, a school newsletter, or a website can be great for this. And don’t overlook your local community newspaper! You might even consider putting a video together—a slideshow with photos counts. Another idea is to make educational posters or put up facts about the project you’re doing to raise awareness around school. All of this will help show others what you’re doing and make your students feel really proud of their efforts.
STEP 6: Celebrate.
Once you’ve completed your main project, don’t forget to celebrate. Throw a party, have a dedication, or recognize members of your group in some way. I like to let my students do a final presentation to other students about what they did and learned. I love seeing how proud they are for taking ownership of a project and succeeding!
STEP 7: Pick a new project, and let the magic of green continue.
Take time to celebrate your accomplishments, then keep going! Connecting with an established year-round program, such as PepsiCo Recycle Rally, can be a good way to keep the ideas and motivation coming throughout the year. Or perhaps you can get an admin or community member involved in helping to identify the next initiative. The best green clubs keep doing work and spreading the word. Then more people will want to get involved and help grow the efforts.
For additional ideas about how to start a green club, check out this thorough Green Team Startup Guide: pepsicorecycling.com/files/greenteamguide.pdf.