Columbus Tustin Middle School from Tustin, California won this year’s Water Campaign. This ambitious, grand prize winning team saved water through many practical means on campus. They greatly reduced the amount of water needed to wipe down tables after their science course demonstrations. Their school reduced the number of gallons needed to wash their equipment from 100 gallons of water down to 3 gallons of water. The team impressed teachers and students through their creative solution and willingness to serve their community and environment.

But that’s not all!

Four other Water Campaign teams won awards as well!

Grand View Elementary School from Manhattan Beach, California won the “Best Elementary Impact” award.

Malezi Community Centre from Nairobi, Kenya won the “Best Alumni GOG Team” award.

South Junior High School from Anaheim, California won the Best Community Changemakers award.

– and lastly, The South Bay Team from all over Southern California won the “Best Innovative Idea” award

Please congratulate our students for their terrific efforts! Want to join them? Sign up for this year’s Waste Campaign HERE

St. Roza and their Water Campaign

St. Roza, a veteran Grades of Green Team from Uganda and winner of the first Water Campaign, has joined us once again for this semester’s 2018 Water Campaign. The team has made incredible accomplishments in recent years. For the first Campaign, they have installed a water filtration system to maximize water efficiency for their garden. In addition, they used their well-earned prize money from the first Water Campaign to build a 40,000 liter well for their school and their community!

St. Roza’s Grades of Green Team has been looking into ways to solve their community’s water issues. In Uganda, 61% of Ugandans lack access to safe drink water. In addition, the nation’s tropical climate creates distinctive periods of rain and drought- known as wet and dry seasons. This can make water conservation and water quality efforts more difficult to manage. After building their 40,000 liter well, St. Roza has managed to address the water conservation portion and are looking into ways to keep their hard earned water in good quality. Without centralized water infrastructure, people in Uganda have to be creative and resourceful when it comes to safe drinking water.

Water Facts!

Let’s check out a few water facts to learn how to be resourceful with our own water!

1) The average global footprint for daily activities per person is about 3400 liters of water.

2) The average American diet alone uses up about 3785 liters of water a day.

3) Nearly 22% of indoor home water water use comes from doing laundry.

4) 80% of all diseases in developing nations are related to lack of safe water for drinking and sanitation.

5) Activated charcoal is an ingredient used in many water filters. It can absorb nutrients and other chemicals from water sources due to its extremely high surface area.

Do you have any water facts and tips? Share with us on Instagram @gradesofgreen

Hey Everyone!

As many of you already know, April is Earth Month! This is the perfect time to get your friends and family to partake in a month-long resolution to help out the Earth!

So how do we start?

Simplify and Organize

In order to engage others in an environmental resolution, check out some tips from our “Spread the Word” webinar. These tips should be able to help you “simplify” your message and “organize” your activities and message!

First, focus on one thing that you and your friends can do to help out for Earth Month. You can aim to reduce water usage, plastic waste, compost more, or think of your own solution! If your resolution and activity can be simplified, it will be easier to engage people in one task for an entire month!

Second, share your activity with your community and tell them why you care! Earth Month is a time for everyone to act, from eco-leaders to people who are less environmentally active. Remember, every environmentalist started somewhere! By sharing why you care, you can inspire others to care with you!

Earth Month Resolutions!

This month, Grades of Green Advisors are engaging in their own resolutions!

– Jordan cares about food and the water wasted from food. This month, he is banning all red meats from his diet!

– Emily Stewart was worried about the plastic that came with her lunches from the delicious restaurants nearby. Her resolution is to make trash-free lunches for this entire month!

– Emily Gee wants to reduce our energy output! She is going to talk to her landlord about switching to energy efficient LED lightbulbs.

Share your resolutions with us on social media! Tag us @gradesofgreen on Instagram or Facebook!

Have a happy Earth Month everyone!

Straws and single-use plastics have been targeted by environmental organizations around the world due to their negative effect on the environment. Earlier this year, non-profits, including One More Generation and Bas Les Pailles have taken action against single-use plastics. Moreover, Daves Ave Elementary and Lexington Elementary, two Grades of Green schools from California, have joined in the movement against plastic straws. Together, these schools and organizations have raised awareness around the world calling for an end to straw usage to ensure the well-being of our oceans and aquatic friends.

Are Plastics that Bad?

Single-use plastics cannot be easily recycled and are often found in environments where they can inflict harm on animals. This harms many industries and the overall quality of life for various ecosystems. Note that straws, plastics utensils, and plastic bags can easily be replaced with sturdier tools like metal utensils, cloth bags. With this in mind, why would anyone stick to single-use plastics?

School Action!

Daves Ave Elementary and Lexington Elementary addressed plastic waste issues by mobilizing their Grades of Green teams to make changes on a larger scale. Representatives from both schools signed petitions to ban unnecessary plastic utensils in cafeterias in their districts and carried that momentum to their politicians. The schools contacted assemblyman, Evan Low, sending him 117 letters and a video expressing their enthusiasm for AB 1884- a bill that would limit straw usage in restaurants and cafes in California.

The Fight Against Single-use Plastics Continues!

On March 12th, Daves Ave Elementary made efforts to ban plastic straws and single-use utensils in their schools. The school’s Grades of Green Team presented their case to Los Gatos Union School District to ban straws and other single-use plastic utensils from all the cafeteria within the district. By replacing plastic utensils with reusable sporks, the District would be able to save money by spending less on plastic utensils and trash bags. We wish the team the best of luck as they await their School District’s decision.

How have you contributed to reducing plastic waste?

Earth Month Event!

Fjallraven, the backpack making expert of Sweden, is starting off Earth Month by promoting sustainability at their Earth Month Speaker Series! Fjallraven plans to promote their re-kanken backpack, made from recycled plastic water bottles, to commemorate Earth Month.

This event will be hosted on April 5th at 6:00 PM at Fjallraven’s Soho location in New York City. But guess what else will be hosted at the event?
Grades of Green!

As an environmental education non-profit, we’ll be talking to event-goers about the need for environmental action and education. Environmental stewardship can be fun and we will show participants a few easy activities that everyone can do to help out the Earth. We’ll even we’ll even have a fun, interactive activity to show participants that environmental activism can be easy!

If you’re in New York City on April 5th, check out Fjallraven’s Soho location and be on the lookout for us! Also check out Fjallraven’s New York locations on Instagram at @arcticfoxsoho and @arcticfoxnolita!

Across the world, Grades of Green Schools are completing a variety of environmental activities!

A few schools have been tackling plastic waste, like Daves Ave Elementary. Other schools have been preoccupied with water conservation and water quality, like St. Roza. In Florida, one ambitious Grades of Green Team is preparing to promote environmental awareness for Earth Week! Saint Mary Magdalen Catholic School’s Grades of Green Team is currently ramping up their efforts to engage their school!

Throughout the semester, the team worked on a presentation on plastic waste and ocean contamination. They hope to distribute the presentation throughout the school’s televisions to educate students about waste and environmental issues during lunch and passing periods. Their Grades of Green Team is also working on placing posters or “Recycling Rovers” near recycling bins so that students can easily see what waste is able to recycle. Lastly, the team has introduced a raffle to provide incentives for school members to engage in the “Recycled Art” activity! Participants who complete the activity are entered for a chance to win a prize!

Commitment and Beyond

Saint Mary Magdalen Catholic School isn’t just committed to the environment during Earth Week- their highly organized team has made plans to keep their momentum going for next year. Next semester, the team plans to host a field trip to educate and inspire new members in their team. Although the planning is still in its early phases, the team is sure that the trip can instill an appreciation for Earth’s beauty and the need to engage in environmental action!

In addition, the school will collaborate with Clean the World during the Fall semester to reduce waste created from soap bars remains. By recycling used soap bars, the school can help create create and provide clean shampoos and other hygienic materials for those in need around the world.

We can’t wait to see how Earth Week turns out for this ambitious team!

Want to join an awesome network schools fighting to improve the environment? Click here to become a Grades of Green school!

World Water Day!

March 22nd is World Water Day! As populations, economies, and productivity all expand throughout the world, it is important to learn about the water needed to fuel all these changes. Without enough water, electric generators cannot be cooled, agriculture for food and clothing cannot be grown, and hygiene standards would fall. Although water conservation is important around the world, some areas have different approaches to saving water given their climate and local environment.

Climates and Locations

Countries have differing climates and attributes depending on their location on the globe. Some nations have four distinct seasons while some countries near the equator have have dry and wet seasons. For countries with dry and wet seasons, water conservation is so important. Without proper planning, dry and wet season countries might not have enough quality water for crops, cooling electric plants, and for cleaning and drinking. Grades of Green provides a few ways for schools to save water, but one Grades of Green School went above and beyond.

What are some other solutions?

Well Makers for Wellbeing

St. Roza, a private school in Uganda, wanted to provide quality water for their community during the dry season. As winners of last year’s Water Challenge, they used their earned grant funding to create a well that can hold up to 40,000 liters of water. This well will be able to capture and save water from the rain abundant wet season and help throughout the dry season. St. Roza certainly earned their grant and are paying it forward!

Expanding the Solution

St. Roza also hope to use some of their collected water to create a water efficient fish farm with help from their friends in Nebraska! Fish takes far less water for the average home cook to cook with compared to some local favorites like ugali, yams, rice, and lentils. Moreover, dishes that take less water to use can reduce the chances of waterborne diseases from spreading, since they do not need as much time to boil. The Grades of Green Team at St. Roza hopes that their community can be less dependent on water during the dry season so that there is enough for agriculture, drinking, cleaning and for the good of their community and future generations.

Interested in saving water at your school? Register with Grades of Green here to get started!

Inspired by the blog post written by our L.A. intern Josh about air quality, our friends at St. Roza in Uganda reached out to us to share their own efforts to help with air quality!

Using designs from their fellow art students, the student eco-leaders at St. Roza have constructed an incinerator in order to reduce emissions produced from the burning of the waste they create. Before the students built their incinerator, some of their waste was burned in an open fire with no way to control the emissions created. This sent all sorts of toxins and pollutants into the atmosphere. These students are very concerned about the addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and its effects on global warming and rainfall, so using materials such as clay, sand, and stones, they took matters into their own hands and built an incinerator! They are always working to improve the quality of air and the environment however they can!

We are so happy to hear what these students are doing to reduce air pollution! Their eco-tip might even end up on a special Grades of Green reusable napkin made by our friends at Funkins! Did you submit your eco-tip for our custom napkin contest with Funkins? If so, be on the lookout for an email from us announcing the winners on March 25th!

Interested in spreading the word about protecting air quality or reducing air pollution? Register here to gain access to our 40+ Eco-Activities like our Air Earth Tips Activity!

Nebraska’s Finest

Millard Extension schools in Omaha, Nebraska, have made waves within the Grades of Green community in recent months. With a Grades of Green Team with 29 students from ages 5 to 20, this ambitious school district has participated in many environmental projects. Their projects range from litter collection to protecting Monarch butterflies. Amidst their busy schedule and many ambitions, Millard Extension schools have made friends with other Grades of Green Schools along the way.

Connections through the Water Challenge

They met with St. Roza in Uganda and Malezi Community School in Kenya during the 2017 Water Challenge. After the challenge, they have continued to combine their strengths and efforts and have helped each other create stronger solutions to environmental issues.

Sustainable Tilapia Farming

Shawn Graham, a Science teacher helping with the Millard Grades of Green Team, has focused on helping his team with implementing sustainable agriculture in the North Central Region. Shawn and his students were nominated as finalists for Nebraska’s Step Forward Awards last year for their efforts in sustainable tilapia farming. This sustainable system created a more efficient way to produce food, educated others on the importance of strong water quality, and provides economic opportunities to tackle food insecurity.

Sharing their Work Around the World

The ambitious Grades of Green Team at Millard Schools wanted to do even more. They shared their plans and ideas with their Water Challenge Friends, St. Roza and Malezi Community school. Jay, a student with the Grades of Green Team, wrote a grant to bring awareness to food issues that people in both Kenya and Nebraska had. The team used their sustainable fishing and agriculture projects to help people with food insecurity and sustainability on a global scale. Moreover, Millard’s Team worked with organizations and schools in the North Central Region to address the food needs of the 12 states in the region. Expanding the project allowed participating students to do the following: first, the students had a chance to use STEM skills to solve real world issues. Second, the participating students addressed food insecurity, sustainability, and aquaculture needs in the North Central Region. Third, the students had glimpses into real world business experience.

More Opportunities to Learn

In addition, their Grades of Green Team has collaborated with University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an education program. This program seeks to provide students an opportunity to work with scientists working on water related research- improving their STEM skills and knowledge of environmental issues. By mentoring younger generations, scientists can nurture a strong respect for knowledge and environmental stewardship for years to come. This prepares students for new challenges, economic shifts, and the ability to help others.

Want to join awesome schools in addressing environmental issues? Register with Grades of Green here to add your school!

New York City has it’s newest Grades of Green intern: Polina Maurer!

Polina has a degree in Environmental Engineering from Russia and has also studied Waste water utilization and purification in Denmark. From a young age, Polina was passionate about eco-living and recycling. She was stunned by the differences in methods, legislation and awareness about environmental problems the Earth faces in different countries. She took part in a volunteering group in her hometown, Tomsk, where she explained the importance of recycling and natural resources conservation. Polina wants to make eco-living an easier and approachable experience for all people around the world.

Polina is excited to be part of Grades of Green to make environmental education a fun experience for students around the world!