How to Start a Green Team?
Are you interested in establishing a Green environment Team at your school? This is how your school can be really involved in creating a safer cleaner future for your school!! Establishing a Green Team is vital to implementing strategies to embed within your school community. It increases awareness about the environmental issues our world faces today and allows the community to come up with ideas to tackle these problems.
What is a Green Team?
A Green Team consists of members (students, teachers and parents) who are passionate about the environment and the team meets on a regular basis to discuss ways to improve the environment within their school.
Step 1: Finding Team Members
Ask around, start conversations with people and find a number of students within your school who are passionate about caring for the environment. Recruiting people can be done through emails, posters and word of mouth. At first the group may only be small but with time and effort it will grow. When you have around about 15 students who are willing to be committed to being a Green Team it is vital that you also find a teacher to join and/or supervise. If you are having trouble finding a teacher, I recommend emailing a science, geography or religion teacher about how you and a group of students want to start a Green Team and it would be amazing if they could be a part of it.
It would be excellent if you could get (at least 2) representatives in the Team from each school Year, that way each Year is represented and can contribute and provide feedback.
Step 2: Obtaining School Executive Support
It is very important to schedule a meeting with your Principal, the teacher, and a key Green Team member as you need your Principal’s approval to start a group within your school. If your Principal is reluctant to approve the Green team here are some reasons to challenge the Principal on why a Green Team is important for the school :
Why a Green Team is so important:
Reduce environmental impacts to help and save marine life and protect the environment for future generations
Talk about the values of stewardship: Pope Francis 2015 Encylical - Laudato Si "Care for Our Common Home"
Tell them about the overwhelming support from students and teachers
Make it easy for your Principal and just ask for their approval (suggest that you will be responsible for organising the environmental events)
Talk about how other schools have already done it and you don't want to be left behind
Provide some facts on the detrimental effects that climate change and plastic pollution are having on the environment
Efforts of the Green Team will provide positive publicity for the school
Make them aware of sustainable things that the school may already be doing eg solar panels, no air-conditioning, students catching public transport
Economical benefits/cost reductions with improvements in waste management
Step 3: Host the First Meeting
This is personally the most exciting step, which is to have your first Green Team meeting! Here is how to do it:
Appoint a leader - Role is to communicate to students and teachers, run the meetings and take notes
Decide on a place and time - for my school we have a Green Team meeting every fortnight during lunchtime in our science classrooms (choose a time and place where the most amount of people will attend). It needs to be the same time and day on a regular basis.
Recruiting people - Provide FOOD!!!! And posters is a great way to make people interested in joining the Green Team (on the poster include the place and time of meeting)
Create an agenda -
Create a welcoming atmosphere including music, food and friendly faces
Show a video that will inspire others to take action on the environment
Play a game so everyone can get to know each other
Create an opportunity for all to share - discuss what the school is already doing (you could write this on a whiteboard)
Form into groups and brainstorm possible ideas/projects for the school - show appreciation for these ideas
Collect everyone's emails that attend - send follow up email to the attendees summarising the meeting and the next steps
Step 4: Next Steps
Create a team vision and create goals that you want to achieve for each term and each year. Each meeting to focus on different issues within the school such as the need for education, energy use, waste, transport, water, food and building construction. Get the members of the Green Team involved and within year groups they can come up with initiatives to combat these issues. With the initiatives establish priorities with a recommendation that the first priority be one of the easiest initiatives.
For each initiative:
Set goals to achieve
Record starting data
Set targets for improvement
Track progress against start
6 Ideas of Initiatives:
Create Green Team badges
Conduct a sustainable audit of the school
Conduct a waste management audit of the school
Have environmental speakers come and talk to the students
Promote Nude food options- eliminate plastic cling wrap within the school community
Explore incentives to encourage the school community to recycle/reduce/reuse for example discounts if you bring a keepcup
Organize an activity for Clean Up Australia ( March each year) and Earth Day activities
Once a Term:
Have the Green Team Leader meet with the Principal to keep the Principal updated on the main new initiatives that the Green Team have introduced to the school and/or projects that they are working on.
Have a section in the school newsletter to update the Green Team activities.