We have heard the word “green” over and over again. It seems there are few people who haven’t noticed the effects of “greening,” whether it be in the form of hybrid cars or increasing demand for solar power.

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Anjian Wu

It is estimated that Americans will spend more than $100 billion on green technology, but how much of that should be allocated for schools? After all, the future of our nation relies on our young students. Through setting aside more cash for sustainable practices, schools can kill two birds with one stone by reducing the school’s environmental impact and raising levels of interest and awareness of students.

One possibility could simply be the foods schools serve. As a student, I have heard my fair share of complaints from fellow students about how cafeteria food is unappetizing. By spending the extra money for locally grown or organic foods, schools can improve the health of the student body and reduce fuel costs of food transportation.

Studies have found that children who eat a diet of organic food show levels of pesticides in their bodies that are six times lower than children who eat a diet of food produced with chemical-intensive methods. With new foods, students could feel safe knowing that the food they eat is clean and fresh.

Money also could go to buildings or landscaping. Buildings could be modified to allow more natural light to flow into classrooms, lowering the dependence on electricity and creating a less dungeonlike feel during classes. To combat the cold mornings or blistering afternoons, classrooms could be modified to have better insulation. As for landscaping, funding for more trees on campus can provide natural shading and enhance the scenery, while also lowering the school’s carbon footprint.

Greening schools could involve funding for renewable energies. Solar panels would find much light under the California sun and lower the school’s energy costs. In Hillsdale High School, eight 175-watt panels, paid by grants from BP and support from Home Depot, were installed, saving $164,000 to $300,000 over 10 years.

Academically, promotion of renewable energies could stir student interests in science and technology. Teachers could, for example, have students investigate what orientation would maximize a solar panel’s energy yield.

Sustainability and environmental promotion do not have to be complicated or onerous. Part of a successful campaign against environmental problems, such as global warming, is making sustainability attractive and appealing. Funding schools to be “green” is an excellent opportunity to show that helping the environment and improving lifestyle can go hand in hand.

Dos Pueblos High junior Anjian Wu is a member of Kids Speaking Up, a local group working to educate youth on social, national and political issues and inspire them to write.