Thursday, January 22, 2009

Get a Free Hybrid School Bus for Your Child's School

This year I'm working with a company called IC Bus to educate the public on the benefits of school bus ridership for safety, health, saving money, and greener transportation. The company has put together a contest and campaign called "America's Greenest School" in which you can write a short essay about the environmentally friendly things your school or your child's school is doing in hopes of winning a free hybrid school bus -- a value of $200,000!

Here's the details --

Nationwide Search for 'America's Greenest School' Kicks Off, Winning School to Receive Hybrid School Bus From IC Bus

Students returning to school from winter break can start the new year off with a resolution for their schools to be more environmentally responsible. The nation's largest school bus manufacturer, IC Bus, is looking for America's Greenest School -- and students can help.

Students can enter by visiting http://www.americasgreenestschool.com/. On the site, they can learn more about making their school more environmentally friendly and submit a 500-word essay that describes what makes their school "green." Activities such as setting up in-school recycling programs, keeping lights turned off when not in use, using environmentally smart landscaping and encouraging students to ride school buses instead of driving to school are all ideal solutions for creating a greener school.

The submission should describe how the school shows its commitment to going green, how it teaches its students the value of green living, how it shows its dedication to green transportation or how it embodies the spirit of a greener planet.

"This program can help students, teachers and parents learn that they do have the power to make greener choices that will positively affect the environment," said Terra Wellington, author of the new book "The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home" and one of the essay contest judges. "Making America's schools greener is a winning lesson plan for everyone."

Here are some of Terra's tips for greening your school:
  • Ride the bus: Riding the school bus is a great way to reduce your school's carbon footprint. The American School Bus Council estimates that each diesel school bus takes 36 cars off the road, which significantly reduces fuel use, emissions and traffic congestion. In fact, 3.1 billion gallons of fuel are saved annually by students who ride school buses instead of riding in cars.

  • Use both sides of the paper: Ask your teacher if you can print reports and other homework assignments "double-sided" to save paper. By printing double sided, your paper consumption is halved, significantly reducing waste.

  • Become a light monitor: Ask your teacher to use the classroom's natural light whenever possible. When the classroom is empty, make sure lights are turned off and computers are in standby mode. A standby setting can reduce power over 90 percent, helping to conserve energy.

  • Pack a litterless lunch: Don't use any disposable containers to pack your lunch from brown bags to plastic baggies. Instead, use containers that can be washed and reused. In a litterless lunch, the only items left over should go to compost, like a banana peel.

  • Recycle: Ask your teacher or principal about setting up a recycling bin for paper, plastic bottles and cans. If your school already has a program, encourage others to participate.

Finalists will be announced after Earth Day and the public will be able to vote for their pick to win the title of America's Greenest School. The winning school will receive a plug-in hybrid school bus from IC Bus, which can increase the fuel efficiency of standard school buses by up to 65 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 percent. The hybrid school bus has an estimated retail value of $200,000. The student who submits the winning essay will win a $5,000 scholarship. Sponsoring teachers may receive $3,000 to use toward educational materials.

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