Take the February Challenge

In September, we began our journey toward living a “greener” life by learning about the 6 R’s (refuse, reduce, replace, reuse, repurpose, recycle). We learned about ways to decrease our water usage (January) and how to reduce or eliminate our dependence on single-use plastics (October and November). If you’ve been participating in the pledges each month, you are already well on your way to living a “greener” life and helping to take care of the planet!! This month, the Green Team is going to be focusing on more ways for us to practice being “green” around school and at our homes.

Creating a “green” campus and backyard:

Our very own Mrs. Viera has created a pretty amazing garden right here at Carrollwood Elementary. Here are a few of her tips for how to create a “green” campus and backyard…

1. Compost — composting yard waste (like leaves and branches) along with food scraps from the kitchen (like coffee grounds and vegetable peelings) can create a soil-like material (compost) that protects your garden from water loss and enriches the soil. Here’s a great place to get started if you want to help mom or dad start one at home: 


2. Use natural or organic insect control – Neem oil, diatomaceous earth and even dish soap are all easy ways to protect your garden from bugs without using harsh chemicals that can make you (and our planet) sick:


3. Plant native plants – native plants are plants that are naturally found in a given area and are great for lots of reasons! Because Florida’s native plants are used to our climate and rainfall, they tend to not need as much attention as plants that are native to other regions (but planted in Florida). You don’t need to remember to water them during the dry season and they don’t need to come into your house when it starts to get cold (those 3-4 days we get each year).


4. Plant your own garden – Mrs. Viera has a beautiful garden growing at Carrollwood that many of you have already checked out (or even tasted). Tomatoes, kale, carrots, swiss chard, onion, broccoli, basil and thyme are just a few of the yummy things growing right here on campus!! You can grow one at home too!!

What do I do with all this stuff??

The planet is overwhelmed with stuff!! Clothing, toys, books….when you look around your home, it can be alarming to realize how much “stuff” we accumulate in our lives (and how little of it we actually use). Many of these items end up being reused again by someone else but a lot of our “stuff” just ends up in a landfill, where it may take years or even decades to break down. So what can you do??

1. Swap with a friend — if you’re tired of your clothes (or toys or books), do a swap with a friend! Not only does it give you something new to wear or do, it’s free AND it doesn’t add more “stuff” to your home.

2. Donate it to an organization that helps others. The Spring is one of many such companies in the Tampa Bay area:

Donate Items

3. Think before you buy…is this a want or a need? When we see something we want to purchase, we often talk ourselves into buying it by saying we “need” to have it. But when you think about it, many of the things we “need” are actually “wants”. So before you purchase another Lego set or stuffed animal or pair of sandals, ask yourself if it is a “want” or a “need” and whether you will just be adding to a landfill a year from now if you purchase this item.

How to eat “Green”:

Our food choices may not seem like something that can help the planet but they can actually have a pretty big impact (good or bad). Here are some ways to ‘go green’ with your food:

1. Meatless Mondays – Scientific data tells us that carbon is a major contributor to increasing global temperatures and one of the biggest contributors to carbon is cows!! Because of their diet, cows produce methane (CH4) as part of the digestive process (up to 55 gallons/day). And because we have 1.5 billion cows on the planet, that adds up to a lot of methane! One of the easiest ways to combat this is by limiting our consumption of beef and dairy products. Just one day a week will make a huge impact over time!!

2. Use compostable coffee pods for your Keurig instead of plastic ones – When Keurig first created the single-use coffee pod, there weren’t many options. Today, however, choices are everywhere, not only regarding flavors of coffee but what kind of pod you use. Compostable coffee pods are easy to find, especially online, and come in many of the flavors and types of coffee that the non-compostable plastic options do.

3. Buy in bulk – Single-serving packages are great for convenience as well as making better choices regarding serving sizes but the smaller packaging comes with a price…it creates more packaging waste that is often not recyclable. A better option for a ‘greener’ lunch includes buying a larger bag/container of the item in question and packing it in a smaller container to take for lunch.

How to clean “Green”:

1. Use natural cleaners like vinegar, baking soda, bleach and ammonia (but NOT all together!!) to clean every part of your home. It cuts down on the amount of plastic being produced and it’s less expensive too:


2. Use a cloth rag (that can be washed and reused) and homemade spray (made with bleach and water) instead of disinfecting wipes (which don’t break down easily over time). Teachers, this one will save you $$$ when you think about how often you have to wipe down desks and tables in your classroom!