What Does It Mean for a School to Be Green?

By Fran Agnone, Sustainability Coach and Students from PS 110 The Monitor School

In the midst of Pizza Day in the cafeteria at PS 110 The Monitor School, I was able to pull students away from their slices and ask them to reflect on the school’s greening efforts. As Sustainability Coach at the school, one of my responsibilities is helping green the culture of the school.

I decided to take a random sampling of students from 1st to 5th grade and ask about how we are doing, what we can do better, and how to spread the message outside of the building.  Every student was gracious and excited to put their lunch down for a minute and share their observations and ideas.

Daniel, 2nd grade

What does it mean for a school to be green?

Maya, 1st grade: That we are recycling and doing it very good.

Daniel, 2nd grade: We keep the lunchroom clean, have no garbage on the floor.

L’anya, 3rd grade: We clean up and take care of the lunchroom and put our food in the right place.

Skyla, 4th grade: It’s recycling, reducing, and reusing—the 3 Rs. At PS 110 we do all of these things, like putting our waste in the right place, using plastic bottles for projects, and refilling our bottles.

Diego, 5th grade: For me it means the school is environmentally focused. We recycle and we think about energy use and how important solar and wind energy are at creating less pollution.     


L’anya, 3rd grade

Anything we can do better at PS 110?

Daniel: We can push trash down in the cafeteria bins so we can make more room for waste, we’ll make less of a mess and use less trash bags.

L’anya: Some students can do better cleaning up after themselves. We should all pick up all our food at lunch and not leave anything on the floor.

Skyla: I think we are doing a good job.  

Diego: We’re doing good, but I think we could do better, like using solar power in the building. When my family visited The New York Hall of Science, they used solar energy and I thought that was so smart because it doesn’t cause pollution.  

Skyla, 4th grade

What ideas do you have about what people outside the school do can to be green? Or what we can do at home?

Maya: Instead of letting the garbage trucks sweep the street, we can pick our own litter and put it in the cans.

Daniel: Recycle at home. My brother and I sort the recycling at home.

L’anya: I like to be green at home by recycling, I feed birds and some of the cats in the neighborhood. I take care of nature and other people should too.

Skyla: I helped teach my family to recycle, they were confused about where some plastic goes and how to collect food scraps. I just explained to them why we do it to take care of the earth and they understood.

Diego: At home I have two cacti and a couple of other plants. I also like being outside, my family likes to go green together. It’s fun!

Diego, 5th grade

At the end of lunch, Donovan, in 5th grade happened to ask why I was talking to Diego. I told him that I was interviewing him for the GoGreen blog.

This inspired Donovan to add, “The whole school is doing good at going green. Sometimes people get confused about recycling plastic and paper, but there is always someone to help.”

I asked if we are doing better than last year and he replied, “Oh yeah!” as he walked to the waste bins to recycle his lunch.

Maya, 1st grade

This check-in with a handful of the students at PS 110 was so encouraging! It is very clear how these students are taking the challenge of being green seriously. Next time you meet someone from PS110, ask them questions about going green. They have a lot to share! The best part is, teaching is one of the best ways to reinforce learning, so the more questions we ask these kids, the better they will know how to green their world. Talk about a bright future!