Green cleaning is an opportunity to rally the school community behind a common goal, and there’s no better part of the community to get involved than the students. Students can be some of the most valuable members of your green cleaning team. Not only can they help make your job easier by being aware of how to keep buildings cleaner, but they can also help educate the community (including their parents), advocate for green cleaning and even provide innovative new ideas to broaden your program.
We asked the members of our Leadership Council how they engage their students in their programs. These school facility directors run successful, award-winning green cleaning programs in K-12 and universities across the U.S. Most of those who responded mentioned that their students were actively involved in recycling programs, through green clubs, committees, student government and general participation. Other schools have worked with students to do even more—asking them to help prepare classrooms to be cleaned and even turning to student groups for tech support!
“Our students participate in recycling paper, and there is a board-approved program for students to learn the importance of recycling. Various buildings have Green Clubs, which help with our recycling program.”
-Mike Jones, Director of Custodial Services, Columbia Public Schools, Columbia, Missouri
“Every other year, we put a challenge out through the art department to create a recycling poster that will be used around all our facilities. We choose a winner from the elementary, middle and high school levels. Each winner selected is given a $100 gift certificate. It’s been a great way to increase awareness as well as showcase our students’ talents.”
-Keith Webb, Executive Director of Plant Services, Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, Virginia
Little Helping Hands
“Students work with their teachers to stack chairs in elementary rooms (not mandatory practice in all schools but we do encourage this practice). Most schools have designated students assist in cleaning areas for snack time inside rooms and putting cartons in recycling bags.”
-Kimberly Thomas, Executive Director – Plant Services & Custodial Operations, Clarke County School District, Athens, Georgia
“Every year we hold our ‘Sustain a Bash’ program. During that two-hour event, we showcase all the sustainable programs we participate in here in the residence halls, we have games, learning stations, including one where our students can get a drink of the Lotus Pro water and make milkshakes by peddling a bicycle.”
-Jodi Krause, Assistant Director Housekeeping, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
“A group of students from the College of Computing at Georgia Tech built our green cleaning website as their semester project. My management team provided their grade on the semester project.”
-Tommy Little, Associate Director of Building Services, Georgia Institute of Technology
We’d love to hear how your program is engaging students, submit your story in a comment below.
Learn how you can work with the members of our Leadership Council to bring some of these ideas to your school. We offer mentorship opportunities with the Leadership Council, or you can connect with one of them to ask for advice on a particular topic.