Why go green? From healthier lifestyles to energy savings, people are constantly coming up with new and impactful ways to help the environment. Schools are no different. They know that our future depends on protecting the planet. Fortunately, New Jersey has many programs to assist local schools to reach their greening goals. Sustainable Jersey for Schools is one such program.
What Is Sustainable Jersey for Schools?
It encourages and supports sustainable efforts at the educational level. Specifically, it is a certification program for New Jersey public schools that want to go green, conserve resources, and further educate students about healthy environments. Launched in the fall of 2014, and modeled after the successful Sustainable Jersey Municipalities program–of which Collingswood Boro is a participating member, Sustainable Schools is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides tools, training, and financial incentives to support and reward schools as they pursue green initiatives.
The program encompasses three equal, interrelated components of sustainability:
- People—contribute to a strong civil society that provides opportunity to all
- Prosperity—support local economies and use community resources
- Planet—practice responsible environmental management and conservation
Would There Be Budget Concerns With Enrolling?
School participation in the program is voluntary and registration is free. Sustainable Jersey’s certification process is easy and straightforward. It builds upon a points system that links to grant funding opportunities for schools.
There are two levels of certification: Bronze and Silver. Bronze certification means a school has made a commitment to sustainability and succeeded in implementing significant first steps, while Silver certification means a school has made major progress in a number of categories toward sustainability and is a state-wide and national leader. Some examples of certification activities include the creation of green teams, implementation of energy efficiency measures, student learning projects—and much more.
Some Involvement In Collingswood
Currently, the Collingswood School District is registered as a Sustainable District with elementary schools Zane North and Mark Newbie participating. The Collingswood District requires that any schools wishing to participate must name a coordinator to work with their principal to oversee and implement the program. Additionally, parental involvement is important and a key to overall success. Once the District approves a school, it may register on the Sustainable Jersey for Schools website. The website provides a list of sustainability actions, each with guidance and resources for implementation.
At this time, more than one-third of New Jersey school districts and more than 500 schools are now participating. Since 2015, $706,000.00 in grants have been provided to districts and schools to make progress. Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a great vehicle to support sustainable education, help guide children and engage entire communities in ways that help transform the environment.