Monthly Archives: October 2011

Day Thirty: May Your Own


We have reached the LAST day of PGC. I cannot believe it. Wow, what a journey…


Check out Challenge Day 30! Here’s the intro and pop over toPGC to see the Green, Greener, Greenest Challenges and join us!


Over the past month, we have looked at twenty-nine of the world’s most pressing issues through a green lens. Environmental sustainability is a broad topic of global importance and we have examined it from numerous angles. Your innovative, comprehensive, and insightful responses to the challenges have wowed us. The dedication, passion, and creativity is truly remarkable… so, now we want to turn the tables! As you reflect on this month of green, was there a theme we did not touch on which you think would be a great addition to PGC 2012? Tell us! This is the opportunity to share thoughts and think through development of a new theme. We cannot wait to hear your ideas for engaging, fun, and informative challenges!

Green Schools



Global Green has such terrific content. Check out these great ideas of how you can start greening your school… and your life and workplace and world too!


Swap out old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs, saving you time buying and replacing bulbs, and an average of $30 or more in energy costs over the life of each bulb. Every CFL can prevent more than 450 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Every bit helps to reduce the risks of global climate change. Many local utility companies have free or reduced-cost exchange programs.

Organize school garden projects that engage students, teach about nutrition, and produce some food for their consumption (like they have at the White House). Create a school-wide composting program of cafeteria and food scraps. Composting provides a way not only of reducing the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of, but also of converting it into a product that is useful for gardening, landscaping, or house plants. Through basic and worm composting programs, students can learn about ecology, biology, and waste reduction.

Create a school recycling program. Recycle everything that cannot be reused; and encourage the purchase of items that can be recycled. A successful and meaningful recycling program must involve the whole campus — there is no teaching tool like the daily, hands-on practice of recycling everything that cannot be reused. By recycling just one glass bottle, you save enough electricity to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

You don’t have get too technical to teach students about energy use; you can simply take stock of where and how you’re using energy, by assessing where in the classroom energy is going (and being wasted). A simple energy audit can help out. How many lights are on? Is there heat or A/C? Do the computers get left on at night? Determine where you can cut back, then create a checklist kids can follow every day. You can help raise awareness by adjusting computer monitor settings, turning the lights off before recess, have a “lights-off” hour once per week, and so on.

There are many ways that green schools initiatives can support your school’s curriculum, with key tie-ins to science, math, social studies, and economics. Establish a strong link between energy and the environment. Protection of the environment is a strong motivator. Help students and adults understand that more than 80% of pollution results from the production, consumption, and disposal of energy — and that actions they take really do make a difference.

Create an educational display for your school on energy, efficiency, and/or environment. Track monthly energy savings or classroom behavior changes, and post them in a common area at school. Broadcast reminders over the school PA system each day to students, faculty, and staff, reminding them to turn off all unused equipment. Use the school¹s electronic marquee to display messages of conservation to the public. Have students attend PTA meetings to discuss the school’s energy conservation efforts.

Have students complete a walk-through energy audit of their homes. Make a list of energy problems in the home and suggest solutions, which students can bring home to their families. By modeling and discussing ways to save energy at home and at school, you can spread the energy-efficiency message to families and the community. Include practical and convenient energy saving tips in your school’s monthly newsletter as well.

Demand from school administrators and district personnel the right to know about environmental health issues such as pesticides, commercial cleaning products, lead, mold, indoor air quality (especially in portable classrooms), and industrial emissions at and around school. Advocate that schools use alternatives to pesticides, herbicides, and toxic cleaning materials whenever possible.

In California — where  one of every eight American students is educated — the Clean and Healthy Schools Act (AB821) was introduced by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D, Santa Monica) in February 2009 to require schools to usegreen cleaners. Following similar laws adopted in New York and Illinois, California has the opportunity to reduce exposures to toxic chemicals among students, teachers and staff. Send an email to support AB821 to your representative.

You can work with parents, students, teachers, principals, district staff, school board members, and advocacy groups to get your local school board to pass a framework resolution promoting sustainable and healthy schools. By organizing around a school board resolution, disparate local groups working on issues from pesticides in schools to environmental education can join forces and work together, both to get the resolution passed, and then to implement it.Download our letterto send to school officials urging them to make your school a green school.

Sign our letter to President Obama and urge him to push Congress to make green schools a high priority in the legislative and to urge local school districts and city councils, mayors, governors, and state legislators to utilize green standards for school construction.


Studies have shown that student test scores can improve up to 20% when kids learn in green classrooms that provide morenatural daylighting, improved classroom acoustics and healthier paints and carpets that don’t release toxic chemicals into the air.

Schools built with more natural daylight, better ventilation and healthy green building materials such as non VOC carpets and paints, can improve student and teacher healthand result in fewer sick days, higher teacher retention and improved student attendance.

Operating costs for energy and water can be reduced by 20% to 40%,allowing more money to be used for teacher salaries, textbooks and computers

Buildings can become teaching tools and important features of science, math, and environmental curriculumwhen green features and advanced technology and design in schools are used to excite kids about learning real world applications of green technologies.

Green Schools significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions.  In Los Angeles alone, building 34 new green schools will reduce 94,000 tons of CO2 or the equivalent of eliminating more than 15,000 cars from the road every year or planting more than 280,000 trees!

On average, a green school reduces water usage 32%.  This reduction has direct savings for the building as well as substantial societal benefits from lower pollution and reduced infrastructure costs to deliver water and to transport and treat wastewater.

A green school can reduce teacher turnover by up to 5%which results in financial savings for the school, as well as a more positive experience for students

Investing in building green schools is an investment in green jobsincluding green construction, building product manufacturing, and green architecture.

Students in Green Schools are absent less frequently.  By reducing absenteeism just 15%, a typical elementary school would save from $40,000-$60,000.

Greening public schools creates an opportunity to improve the health and educational settings for all students, regardless of income or background.

College Cafeteria Food: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

OCT 17, 2011

Written by guest blogger, Anthony Garcia

One of the major complaints about most college cafeterias is that the food served is plentiful but not particularly nutritious. Traditional college cafeteria menus are usually loaded with items like juice cocktails, soda, diner foods like hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, French fries, and breakfasts that contain large amounts of oils and fat (i.e, bacon, sausages, pancakes and syrup), along with an endless selection of sugary desserts. College and graduate students often gain weight during their first and second year of studies, because of poor eating habits. However, sometimes healthier foods are offered alongside greasy, unhealthy foods. Even though students usually have some fresh fruits and salad bar options available, the selection of healthy foods is usually less varied and flavorful. Therefore, many students still choose the unhealthy food.

College cafeterias can become problematic for a few other reasons as well. They are conveniently located so students do not always search for other selections that may be more suitable for them. Because students get into frenzies when trying to include all their daily responsibilities all the while attempting to accommodate rigorous and irregular class schedules, it tends to force them into incorporating as many easy choices in their lives as possible. Unfortunately, their diets are likely to be one of the first things that suffer because it becomes difficult to resist some of the unhealthier, more familiar choices of food.

Furthermore, the meals are usually paid for in advance or included in tuition, so it is often the cheapest option. If students are paying for their education, they may not be able to afford other alternatives to the cafeteria and are left with lackluster foods that repeat themselves over and over again. Students new to campus may have had guardians who regulated their meals at home before, but feel a sense of “I can eat whatever I feel like” because of the new freedom of college and therefore eat the chicken nuggets instead of the rice and beans.

College cafeteria services are operated either by the college itself or contracted out to food management companies, like franchise food chains and campus kiosks. These organizations seek to offer a variety of meals appealing to the students. While eating healthy foods is best, it can also become a sterile and boring “activity” when maintained with few or no changes. Fast food has strong smells, and many American students are already pre-conditioned to crave the flavors in fast foods. Therefore, fast foods are likely to always be a part of the college cafeteria food plan because they are easier to sell.

There is a trend, however, occurring on some campuses that strays from butter-drenched vegetables and processed meats served in assembly-lines, which opts for meals served in intimate restaurant settings and elaborate dining halls. Meals in some schools are cooked by gourmet chefs who have been well trained in national and international cuisines. According to the Wall Street Journal, some colleges have realized that the students of today require lots of variety to satisfy their finicky taste buds. Enter roasted Portobello or chicken, grilled flank steak, risotto tossed with salmon, pasta stations, espresso coffee, and sushi bars! Yale University had the top four-star rating, and the University of Texas was given the worse rating (one star) for some of the most badly cooked and worst-tasting food ever encountered.

Unfortunately, this new trend of incorporating exciting and well-balanced meals seems to be hitting only the top-tier schools, where wealthier students are prominent and can afford to have the best food available. However, many colleges are at attempting to please their students and offer healthy options. According to The Daily Beast, the top three college cafeterias known for their irresistible cuisine, diverse dining and restaurant setups, economical meal plans, and fulfilling their patrons’ requests are as follows:

1. Oregon State University

2. Virginia Tech

3. St. Olaf College (Minnesota)

College cafeterias are responsible for supplying a large amount of food to a diverse group of diners under sanitary conditions. Ultimately, however, in college the responsibility for setting up a reliably healthy diet rests with the students. When students have grown up with cafeterias that serve nachos and processed foods from their k-12 experience, they may choose to continue to eat those types of foods when offered in their college cafeterias. Information is available to college students so that they can better inform their choices when in the cafeteria, and perhaps go for a salad instead of a cheeseburger. Despite overwhelming evidence about the dangers of college cafeterias to student health, it’s up to the students to become knowledgeable about proper eating habits and to remain diligent about maintaining a healthy diet, no matter where they choose to eat.

Photos 1 & 2:

Guest Blogger: Sarah


maggots.  Grain products can also be added, although that may invite some unwanted vermin (we already have rats).  Instead, give the bread to your chickens.  Animal manure is also a beneficial fertilizer, we would use cow manure and bunny pellets (what we currently use on our garden).  It works great!




The meal


In honor of the changing weather, our meal will be a celebration of remaining foods in the garden.  The three course meal is as follows:


I could grow the vast majority of the food in this meal.  Here is the ingredient list and if it is from the garden or bought elsewhere:


  • Baby spinach (garden)
  • Kale (garden)
  • Romain lettuce (garden)
  • Apple (garden)
  • Carrots (garden)
  • Goat cheese (garden)
  • Raspberry vinaigrette (made with raspberries from garden, but other non-garden products too)
  • Chicken (garden)
  • Zucchini (garden)
  • Patty pan squash (garden)
  • Onions (garden)
  • Tomato (garden)
  • Peppers (garden)
  • Corn (garden) – spices not garden
  • Phyllo dough – not garden
  • Brown sugar – not garden
  • Cream cheese – (garden)?
  • Pears (garden) – glaze not garden




It really is a mostly home grown meal!  I am sure the other ingredients could be procured locally.  I must say, after making this menu, I am inspired to have a end of summer feast with my family – featuring this exact menu!




Grants for your School Garden


Looking for a way to give back to your community?  Why not apply for a grant to help your school grow a garden!  Here are some GREAT resources:










Guest Blogger: Julia


Want to get featured as our next guest blogger?  Head over to Project Green Challenge and join the fun!

JULIA: George Walton Comprehensive High School. Marietta, Georgia

My school uses green heritage toilet paper, which is made from 100% recovered paper fiber and 20% post-consumer materials. It meets the “Green Seal environmental standard for bleaching  and packaging.  I was unsure about a couple of things, so first I researched the Green Seal. To be certified as a Green Seal product, green heritage bathroom tissue has to be between 8 and 22 lbs. per ream, has to meet dry and wet strength standards (I would explain them but the units are really weird, like gf/in. what is that??). Additionally, the tissue has to have 2-24% stretch and there are no water absorbency requirements or standards. The tissue has to have a minimum of 36 ft2 per roll if single-ply, and if double-ply, it must have 18 ft2 per roll. Those are just the basics. Now onto sustainability standards. The product must be made from 100% recovered material OR two other options, but this product meets the first so let’s move on. Next, the product has to have 25% post-consumer materials.. WAIT. The package says 20%! Why is this? I just realized. The package says it meets requirement for the Green Seal environmental standard FOR BLEACHING, DE-INKING, AND PACKAGING. There are no added inks, dyes, or fragrances. Unless I want to dissect the entire specification checklist, I’m not going to go find the standards for bleaching, deinking, and packaging. Another great thing about this toilet paper is that it’s made in the USA, using less energy and putting the money back into our economy! But what I really want to know is… what is, “recovered paper fiber?” I looked it up, and, basically, it’s any and all unused or recycled paper products. This can be postconsumer OR leftovers from production line cutting, hole-punching, anything that requires trimming of the excess. The paper scraps and pieces are reused as recovered paper fiber.


We don’t have paper towels at my school—just hand dryers. But how much better are these than paper towels, especially if we had post-consumer material towels? I looked up some information about “World Dryer,” the brand of dryers my school uses. They are a typical hand dryer company, with different models and specifications. Our hand dryers are classified as “the most durable and popular;” however, are these energy-efficient? Doubtful. They hardly dry our hands at all. The company DOES have more eco-friendly dryers that can even help buildings acquire LEED certified status, but those models will not be found in my school. I’m not sure if these dryers are better or not—I would have to look up financial records and all that and I am definitely not in the position to do that SO for now we will assume that my school is making the environmentally conscious decision to conserve paper!

After being somewhat encouraged by my school’s decisions in toilet paper and paper towel reduction, I discovered the paper.

Oh, the tortured paper. It’s been bleached and suffocated past point of recognition. Look at your colors! Your unnatural dyes! I feel sorry for you, Fascopy and Boise paper. You’ve been through a lot. I only found ONE type of decent label on this paper: Acid-free. Even then, there was no third-party certification! Who knows, is this legitimately acid-free or are you just greenwashing us, Boise? The cabinet full of paper killed me a little on the inside. How much paper the school has already purchased—how many trees have suffered for the cause. Well, time to write a letter!

Dear Ms. Mallanda,

My name is Julia and I am a senior here at Walton High School. I’ve been here since the first day of freshman year and I’ve really grown attached to the school and all of the opportunities it has given me. I am an active student, participating in multiple extracurricular activities, such as Fresh Living Club (a club I created), National Honors Society, Beta Club, and Student government to name a few. I’ve spent the last three years experiencing and taking note of the way things work here, and I’ve decided that I would like to suggest a change. First off, I’m not sure if the topic of this letter falls under your responsibilities, but I needed someone to contact and the school website says that you are the administrator designated for 12th grade students. Anyway, here I go. There seems to be an endless cycle of copying and printing and discarding at WHS. We have recycle bins in every classroom, but how much that CAN be recycled is actually recycled? And is recycling the very best process we can support that concerns paper usage? The answer is no. There is a reason that ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ come before ‘recycle’ in the triple ‘r’ mantra. One of the key beliefs of WHS is, “the commitment to continuous improvement is imperative for the school to enable students to become competent self-directed, lifelong learners.” This quote comes directly from the school’s extended mission statement. If the school itself doesn’t actively improve its processes and functions, how can it expect students to do the same in regards to their schoolwork? I’ve been participating in the Project Green Challenge for the past 10 days. This challenge was created by the organization called Teens Turning Green, which encourages students to make a difference in their communities by setting the example of an eco-friendly, or “green” lifestyle. In fact, I am the campus representative for Walton High School. We have different challenges every day for the entire month of October. Each challenge focuses on a different theme, and today’s focus was paper. As I walked around the school documenting paper product usage, I was pleasantly surprised that the toilet paper we use is made from 100% recovered paper fiber, and 20% of that is post-consumer recycled content. Additionally, we have greatly reduced our dependence on paper towels through the use of hand dryers in the bathrooms. Sadly, my positive outlook was quickly shattered when I discovered the copy paper. How is it that none of the copy paper of Walton High School, a so-called “green school” carries any environmentally sustainable certification? Let me briefly introduce you to the advantages of using 100% post-consumer recyclable material instead of the wasteful paper products that we currently use: post-consumer material paper products save 24 trees per ton of paper used, save about 8,750 gallons of wastewater from entering our water sources, and save 1, 124 lbs. of waste from entering our already overflowing landfills1. Considering that paper already takes up about 25% of landfill space, I’d say that we have a paper use problem that needs to be addressed. In one of my classes, we receive packet after packet of paper that we could easily access online and take notes on with our own paper, instead of wasting energy printing out page after page of ink and virgin material. By switching to eco-friendly alternatives to the paper we currently use, we would not only be affecting the environment in a positive way, but we would be setting an example for schools all over the county. Additionally, this is a great example of continuous improvement and a perfect learning opportunity for students and teachers alike. Like I said before, we are already making great strides in environmental consciousness with hand dryers, recycled toilet paper, recycling bins, and becoming a Cobb County “green school.” But let’s not stop there. There is so much left to do and there always will be, so let’s head on the path of environmental responsibility and stewardship. Yes, purchasing recycled material paper, like that of Kejriwal, Marcal, or New Leaf Paper, is more expensive, but if we continue to expand our use of technology with tools like Class Jump and Blackboard, we can reduce our paper use altogether and be environmentally conscious in multiple regards. I encourage you to pass this information along to whoever handles paper purchases and feel free to contact me if you have any questions! I would love a response. I am getting more and more involved with the green movement, and I would love to see Walton do the same. Another component of the mission statement states that, “students need to be actively involved in solving problems and producing quality work,” and I believe I am doing just that. Being a part of Walton has taught me to stand up for my beliefs and take the lead when it comes to making change. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to seeing changes in the way we use and purchase paper at Walton in the future!

P.S. I encourage you to use Paper Calculator ( to calculate the school’s “paper footprint.” Also, as part of Project Green Challenge, if Walton is the first participating school to switch to 100% recycled content, we will receive 1000 notebooks from Kejriwal, a leading recycled-paper source, free of charge!


I’m going to hand in this letter at school tomorrow! I will update you with any response I receive!

Green Sidewalk To Make It’s Own Electricity


Green sidewalk makes electricity — one footstep at a time

By George Webster, for CNN

Kinetic Energy To Produce Electricity

London, England (CNN) — Paving slabs that convert energy from people’s footsteps into electricity are set to help power Europe’s largest urban mall, at the 2012 London Olympics site.

The recycled rubber “PaveGen” paving slabs harvest kinetic energy from the impact of people stepping on them and instantly deliver tiny bursts of electricity to nearby appliances. The slabs can also store energy for up to three days in an on-board battery, according to its creator.

In their first commercial application, 20 tiles will be scattered along the central crossing between London’s Olympic stadium and the recently opened Westfield Stratford City mall — which expects an estimated 30 million customers in its first year.

“That should be enough feet to power about half its (the mall’s) outdoor lighting needs,” said Laurence Kemball-Cook, a 25-year-old engineering graduate who developed the prototype during his final year of university in 2009.

The green slabs are designed to compress five millimeters when someone steps on them, but PaveGen will not share the precise mechanism responsible for converting absorbed kinetic energy into electricity.

A computer generated image showing PaveGen slabs installed on a subway staircase
A computer generated image showing PaveGen slabs installed on a subway staircase

Although each step produces only enough electricity to keep an LED-powered street lamp lit for 30 seconds, Kemball-Cook says that the tiles are a real-world “crowdsourcing” application, harnessing small contributions from a large number of individuals.

“We recently came back from a big outdoor festival where we got over 250,000 footsteps — that was enough to charge 10,000 mobile phones,” said Kemball-Cook.

The young inventor envisages PaveGen systems being used to power off-grid appliances such as public lighting, illuminated street maps and advertising, and to be installed in areas of dense human traffic such as city centers, underground stations and school corridors.

“Our main test installation is at a school in Kent (southeast England) — where 1,100 kids have devoted their lives to stamping all over them for the last eight months,” said Kemball-Cook.

In its current form, the PaveGen paving slab contains a low-energy LED which lights up, expressing the energy transfer idea to the user but only consuming around 5% of the energy from each footstep.

“This is what I really enjoy about the design,” said Richard Miller, head of sustainability at the UK’s government-funded Technology Strategy Board.

“As much as it’s an effective, common-sense source of some sustainable electricity, it’s also a great way for people to engage with the issue of sustainability … to feel like they are part of the solution in a very immediate, fun and visual way that doesn’t make you do anything you wouldn’t already be doing,” said Miller.

However, although generally enthusiastic about the product, for the time being Miller withholds speculation about its far-reaching impact.

“As with all things of this nature, on a large scale and in the long term, its success will be determined by how cost-effective it is to produce … If it turns out to be expensive, then it will struggle to find a place as anything more than a niche application,” he said.

Kemball-Cook declines to comment on the cost of each slab, arguing that their current price is much higher than what it will be when they go into mass production.

As with all things of this nature…its success will be determined by how cost-effective it is to produce
Richard Miller, UK Technology Strategy Board

That said, the company has already won a spate of awards, including the Big Idea category at the UK’s Ethical Business Awards and the Shell LiveWire Grand Ideas Award. PaveGen has also recently received a round of financing from a group of London-based angel investors, although the sum is undisclosed.

Kemball-Cook is confident that the slab is durable. Over the course of a month it was subjected to a machine that replicates the pounding of footsteps, non-stop every day, he added.

“It’s also really easy to install as a retrofit on existing pavements, because they can be made to match their exact dimensions … you just replace one slab with another,” he said.

Looking to the future, Kemball-Cook would like to see the paving system introduced to the developing world, in areas that have a high footfall, but are off-grid, such as the slums in Mumbai.

“The average person takes 150 million steps in their lifetime, just imagine the potential,” he said.

Guest Blogger: Julia


Go 24 Hours without Disposables

by Julia, George Walton comp. HS

GO 24 HOURS WITHOUT USING ANY DISPOSABLES. Think I can do it? Hope you said yes because I already did.  But let’s back up a little. If you’re going to go a whole day without disposing of ANYTHING (except toilet paper, that was my exception. I had no time to drive to Kroger at 6 in the morning to even buy eco-friendly toilet paper ), you’re going to need some supplies:

Handkerchiefs. Preferably attractive ones. OR if you want to look EXTRA stylish.. go for the kid ones. I carried around the handkerchiefs that I used to pretend were capes for my dolls. Have a look 

Paper Clips. These may seem simple or unneeded or whatever, but when you go to staple something, think—“am I going to be able to reuse this staple?” and the answer is a big NO. be prepared. Carry paper clips.

Lunch Time! Bring a lunch box, plastic or stainless steel Tupperware, silverware (no plastic throwaways), and a cloth napkin! I brought a dish towel because my PeopleTowels haven’t come in the mail yet 😉 Also, don’t bring any bars or chips or packaged items unless they are homemade or come from a bulk, reusable bag.  No juice boxes! Just water bottles! (the reusable kind, of course!)

If I’m going to be honest, it wasn’t that hard to be disposable-free for 24 hours. Yes, I dispose of things EVENTUALLY, but when it comes to a day-by-day ordeal, I tend to lean towards the reusable side. When I DO dispose, I almost always recycle (paper or plastic) or compost (fruits and veggies/tea bags/coffee grounds) before I do any throwing away.