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How Students Can Practice Sustainability

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    How Students Can Practice Sustainability

    Students trimming and examining plants

    Think CCA is environmentally friendly? Of course we are, and you can help.

    Planet Earth is a precious place, as children know. Every time they make mud pies or catch fireflies, they are marveling at the wonders of nature. Childhood is the time to introduce children to sustainability and their role in conserving resources for a clean and green planet when they grow up. It’s never too early to teach sustainability for students. From the early years through their teens, they can make sustainability and respect for the environment a part of their lives. 

    Tips for Student Sustainability

    What is sustainability for students? It’s the idea that conservation and innovation aren’t just for adults to practice. These tips help students incorporate an environmental sustainability mindset into their everyday lives.

    Learn More About Climate Change and Sustainability

    • Climate change is affecting cultures and societies worldwide. Its effects will linger for decades and, if not stopped soon, could be irreversible. Through STEM classes, students learn the climate science that pinpoints the changes the Earth is undergoing and their causes. Through current events, they can see the devastation that is displacing communities and disrupting the livelihoods of societies around the globe. Environmental sustainability projects for students provide hands-on experiences that offer insights into how ecosystems work. Through innovative facilities like AgWorks at CCA, students apply their STEM lessons to real-world experiments in producing food through controlled environment agriculture. Whether in person or virtually, students explore food production and research through the AgWorks at CCA research lab, biotechnology lab and aquaponics facility — the largest public educational aquaponics facility in the country!  

    Reuse + Recycle When Able

    • We live in a throwaway society, but kids can learn that not everything should go in the garbage can. Everything that’s thrown away ends up in a landfill, taking up precious space for decades or even centuries. Teach your children to think about the vast amount of resources, including paper, plastic and cardboard, going through their hands every day. You can even assign them to examine the contents of the trashcan at their learning space. Were items used carelessly? Could a piece of scrap paper have been used instead of clean paper to write a note? When it’s time for art class, don’t buy new supplies. Look around the house and the yard for all sorts of materials that can be used to make masterpieces. 

    Opt for Green Commutes

    • Every family is constantly on the road. Parents drive to work. Children get driven to sports practice, dance class or play rehearsal. Teenagers with a brand-new license drive down the street for pizza just because. Maybe it’s time for a new strategy. Sit down as a family to brainstorm ways to make fewer trips by carpooling, blending errands, and walking or bicycling to the destination. If you live in an area with good public transportation, buy passes and use them for regular trips. Even online school families can “green commute” by planning shared car rides with other families. Make simple adjustments, such as building in extra time for things like a late bus or a flat tire, and invest in good walking shoes and rain gear. It adds up to family time together and a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle for all.

    Reduce Plastic Use

    • Plastic is a modern wonder, cutting down on waste by keeping food fresh and ensuring that things like medical supplies are safe and hygienic. But there is an awful lot of it in the world, clogging waterways and filling landfills. Talk to children about all the plastic in your home. Ask them to think about which plastic items they really need or could do without. Could your child have filled a reusable water bottle from the tap instead of downing the contents of one of those throwaway water bottles? At the grocery store, have a talk about single-use packages and individually wrapped items, prompting your child to think about the sustainability advantages of items packaged in bulk. Teach them to use reusable bags or even decline to get a bag for small purchases. 

    Effect Positive Change

    • Children learn by example. They aren’t likely to make sustainability a priority if no one else is doing it. Sustainability requires a lifestyle change, so the entire household has to pitch in. Have family talks about the ways you eat, buy and commute. Rotate “environmental monitoring” duties, assigning someone each week to keep an eye on family consumption of energy and materials. Work with neighbors to green up the neighborhood, starting with native plants in your own yard. Talk to friends about shared practices such as using reusable plates for party foods or riding together to soccer practice. Set an example of sustainability leadership, and your child will follow. 

    Steps CCA Is Taking to Be Green

    CCA believes strongly in our responsibility to set an example of sustainability. Just like our families, we carefully scrutinize our operations, looking for ways to green up our practices. Fortunately, we have a head start as an online school, harnessing electronic communications to save paper. We’ve adopted a number of green procedures to preserve the planet’s resources. 

    • Encouraging Smartphone Use Instead of Making Copies: “If you can, don’t scan!” That’s what we ask parents and students to do when submitting assignments and required documents. Smartphones put scanning technology in the palm of your hand. Submit documents by webmail, and you’re done. 
    • Adding PayPal as a Payment Method to Reduce Checks: Bank checks consume paper, and they aren’t touchless as they pass from hand to hand. CCA established its own PayPal account, for convenient acceptance of payments for field trips — all as part of the field trip sign-up process, eliminating the step of putting a check in the mail.
    • Creating Blanket Waivers and Permission Slips: We all remember the piles of paperwork needed to approve waivers and permission slips. Maybe your doctor’s office still requires that you sign a new waiver every time you visit, but CCA dispensed with that wasteful practice. Instead of signing a waiver and permission slip for each activity, students and their learning coaches electronically sign a blanket waiver that covers all events for the school year, without adding to the world’s paper trail.

    How Students and Families Can Help CCA Increase Its Sustainability

    CCA families are team players in sustainability. When you know the rules and procedures, everything runs smoothly and limits paper use. As you go green with CCA, remember these tips.  

    • Take Clear Photos: The teacher has to be able to read the schoolwork to grade it and give feedback that builds your child’s comprehension and promotes better grades. When taking smartphone pictures, bring the image into focus before snapping. Align the camera in the same direction as the work, vertically or horizontally. Make sure all the words and images are in the photo. Use natural light or lamp light, and avoid using the camera flash, which can wash out the image.
    • Clear a Space for Taking Good Photos: You’ll be photographing documents frequently. It doesn’t help anyone — you or the teacher — if the image is filled with desk clutter that has nothing to do with the assignment. Besides, it’s annoying to constantly push aside piles of paper to make a clean background for photos. Try creating a designated, well-lit area in your child’s learning space for photos, to make the process quick and efficient. 
    • Send Photos so They’re Readable: Every email program has its quirks. Even when you think you’ve sent something properly, the recipient might not get a clear image — or might not receive the document at all. Ask the teacher if they’re receiving materials in usable form. If not, find instructions for sending photographed documents across popular email programs at or your email provider’s help site.  
    • Organize Your Cellphone Album to Avoid Confusion: Whoops. You just sent family vacation photos to the teacher instead of that math assignment. While the teacher might delight in seeing your child having fun, it’s not a very efficient use of your time or the teacher’s. To prevent a jumble of school and personal images, create a special folder in your phone for your child’s schoolwork. This also helps you find the documents you need at a glance, without having to scroll through hundreds of other pictures. 
    • Ask for Help: Problems with technology can be so frustrating that we’re tempted to just give up. At CCA, families don’t need to fret. Our teachers and technology support team are happy to help you smooth out the bumps and take advantage of technology to make family life more sustainable.

    Teaching your child the sustainable practices suggested here is an investment in their future. As they inherit the planet, they can do their part by practicing the eco-friendly habits they learned as children. When they go to college or enter the workforce, they can set an example of sustainable leadership. Some students might even find exciting, impactful careers through CCA’s hands-on STEM learning in aquaponics and the environmental sciences. Contact us to learn more about CCA’s commitment to green practices and educational opportunities in sustainability, and prepare your child for success in the 21st century.


    Commonwealth Charter Academy


    August 3rd, 2021


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