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Tips for a green fall


It's that time of year again! Kids and teachers across the country are heading back to school. You can learn and have fun while making a difference in the quality of the environment in your community, participate in competitions, and more. Here are some cool things to do inside and outside of the classroom.

Some areas of the United States stay warm during the fall and winter months - see also Hot Tips for a Cool Summer page for environmental tips for warm weather areas.

October is Children’s Health Month. Get an action step for each day of October to help keep your children safe.

Driving and Commuting

Do you need a new vehicle to take the kids to school? Fuel economy ratings for new model-year cars are available in October. You have a choice to buy a vehicle that's cleaner and more fuel efficient. Learn more by visiting EPA's Green Vehicle Guide to find the cleanest, most fuel efficient vehicle that meets your needs. Check additional, detailed information about fuel economy at EPA and DOE's jointly-run Web site at www.fueleconomy.gov Exit EPA Disclaimer 

School = Kids + Buses
Have you ever seen all those school buses lined up in front of school with the engines running? Do your kids and the environment a favor and ask school officials to adopt a no-idling policy. Idling school buses waste fuel and pollute the air. Children are especially sensitive to diesel exhaust, which causes respiratory problems and worsens allergies and asthma. View more information about how to reduce school bus idling.

School buses provide safe and efficient transportation to and from school for 24 million children in the United States. However, our school bus fleet is old, with some buses polluting as much as six times more than new ones on the market today. Fortunately, effective and affordable clean fuels and technologies are now available to reduce pollution from older buses. EPA's Clean School Bus USA initiative helps school districts take advantage of these opportunities. Talk to your school officials about joining Clean School Bus USA.

International Walk to School
Walking provides plenty of great exercise and also help us save energy. International Walk to School is to rally for safer and improved streets, promote healthier habits, or to conserve the environment. Whatever the reason, walk! and encourage a more walkable world – one community at a time. Visit http://www.iwalktoschool.org/ Exit EPA Disclaimer .

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School Health

Photo of children geting onto a school bus

Be sure school environments are safe and healthy!

Healthy School Environments
More than 53 million children and almost three million adults spend a significant portion of their days in approximately 112,000 public and private school buildings, many of which are old and inadequately maintained, and which often contain environmental conditions that inhibit learning and pose increased risks to the health of children and staff. EPA's new Healthy School Environments will help facility managers, school administrators, architects, design engineers, school nurses, parents,and teachers find the resources they need to address environmental health issues in schools.

SunWise School Program
The SunWise School Program is an environmental and health education program that aims to teach children and their care givers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. Through the use of classroom-based materials, SunWise seeks to develop sun-safe behaviors in schoolchildren.

Energy Star can help your school become more energy efficient. That means better classrooms for students, less air pollution and more money to pay for school essentials like books and computers.

NOTE - you can make a difference for the environment while shopping for your dorm room. Choose lighting, computers, stereos and other products that have earned the Energy Star label. Also check to make sure that the screen saver, power saver, sleep, or other options on your computer - PC or Mac; desktop or laptop - are set so they use less power and conserve energy.

Purdue University's Integrated Pest Management Technical Center
 Exit EPA Disclaimer 

Texas A&M University's IPM Technical Resource Center Exit EPA Disclaimer 

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) means combining commonsense practices such as preventive maintenance, janitorial practices, landscaping, occupant education, staff training, and judicious or reduced use of (and therefore exposure to) pesticides. IPM approaches are usually less costly for effective pest management in the schools.

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Materials for the Classroom

For Kids
Students for the Environment - projects, games, art and helpful tips.

For Students
Student Center - environmental concepts, activities and tips.

For Teachers
Teacher Resources and Lesson Plans - basic environmental concepts and teaching aids and activities.

World Water Monitoring Day is October 18, but activities start in September.

Learn about environmental education, grants, training, fellowships, and the president's environmental youth awards.

SunWise EPA has developed the SunWise School Program for grades K-8. SunWise Partner Schools sponsor activities that raise children's awareness of pollution and sun safety practices.

Mercury in Schools
Information for school administrators, faculty, staff, local health jurisdictions, and parent groups on how to reduce the hazards of mercury on children's health, avoid chemical liabilities, develop planning tools, and establish collection programs for mercury.

Two major causes of mercury spills at schools are improper storage and mishandling. EPA encourages schools to prevent spills by removing all mercury compounds and mercury-containing equipment. Contact your state or local recycling or waste collection program Exit EPA Disclaimer for further information.

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Conserving and Protecting Water Resources

Learn about what you can do to conserve water at home and at work. Visit: epa.gov/watersense and energystar.gov/clotheswashers, or tour a water saver home Exit EPA Disclaimer 

Learn about Water Science for Schools
Explore this U.S. Geological Survey Web site to find information about a variety of water topics. You'll find on-line activities, pictures, data tables, maps, and a glossary of terms.

World Water Monitoring Day - October 18 Exit EPA Disclaimer 
From September 18 to October 18, people of all ages throughout the world community will have an opportunity to monitor the quality of their local watersheds and enter the results of their efforts into an international database. Monitoring kits are available for purchase by anyone interested in participating.

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Recycling and Reducing Waste

If you are thinking about replacing your old computer, here are some environmentally friendly ways to get rid of your old one.

Tips for Reducing Fall Home Maintenance and Halloween Holiday Waste

Tips for a Waste-Less School Year

Reuse + Recycling = Waste Reduction: A Guide for Schools and Groups (32 pp, 675K, About PDF)
This new booklet is designed for schools and community groups to encourage waste reduction programs. It includes benefits of reducing waste, steps for setting up programs, case studies, and resources.

Service Learning: Education Beyond the Classroom (32 pp, 933K, About PDF), Aprendiendo a través del Servicio: Educación Fuera de la Aula (32 pp, 4099K, About PDF)
This booklet describes how students across the country are gaining hands-on awareness of waste reduction, recycling, and composting, through solid waste service-learning projects.

Welcome to Recycle City! There's lots to do here people and places to visit and plenty of ways to explore how the city's residents recycle, reduce, and reuse waste.

Help Save Our Planet! Lead an alien expedition to Earth. Trail the Garbage Gremlin as an ace detective. Become a Planet Protector today!

Science Fair Fun (16 pp, 246K, About PDF), Diversión en la Feria Científica: Diseñando Proyectos Científicos Ambientales (16 pp, 223K, About PDF)
This booklet is intended to provide students in grades 6-8 with ideas and resources for developing environmental science fair projects in the areas of reducing, reusing and recycling waste materials.

Compost your yard waste. Find out about the benefits of composting at

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Award Opportunities

President's Environmental Youth Awards
Since 1971, EPA has sponsored the President's Environmental Youth Awards. The program recognizes young people across America for projects which demonstrate their commitment to the environment. Young people in all 50 states and the U.S. territories are invited to participate in the program.

Sponsored by Canon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and others, the Envirothon is an annual competition held for high school students throughout North America. Designed as a way to teach kids about environmental education, the best teams from over 47 states and Canadian provinces come together during the summer to compete.
http://www.envirothon.org/ Exit EPA Disclaimer 

National Network for Environmental Management Studies (NNEMS)
EPA's Office of Environmental Education sponsors the National Network for Environmental Management Studies (NNEMS). The NNEMS fellowship program was established in 1986 to encourage college students to pursue environmental careers. The program provides students with environmental research or training experience linked directly to their field of undergraduate or graduate study.

People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition for Sustainability.
EPA launched the P3 Award to promote innovative thinking for moving the world toward sustainability. Through this national student design competition, college students gain new skills and knowledge as they research, develop, design, and implement scientific and technical solutions to environmental challenges.

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Using Pesticides Safely

Poison Control Center

General information:
National Pesticide Information Center

Autumn is a time when pests such as insects and rodents may try to move indoors. Eliminate sources of food, water, and shelter to reduce your pest problems. View more tips.

If you decide that the best solution to your pest problem is a pesticide, read the label first. The pesticide label is your guide to using pesticides safely and effectively. It contains pertinent information that you should read and understand before you use a pesticide product.

Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety (PDF) (54 pp, 2.37 MB, About PDF)
A comprehensive guide that provides steps you can take to control pests around the home, gives information on alternatives to chemical pesticides, and discusses: how to choose pesticides; how to use, store, and dispose of them safely; how to reduce your exposure when others use pesticides; how to choose a pest control company; and what to do if someone is poisoned by a pesticide.

Healthy Lawn, Healthy Environment (PDF) (19 pp, 1.7 MB, About PDF)
Lawn care tips

Pesticide Storage And Disposal
Information about safely storing and getting rid of pesticides.

There are many household products used around your home. What do you know about them? https://www.epa.gov/kidshometour/

Exploring Urban Integrated Management: Activities and Resources for Teaching K-6. Curriculum guide and lesson plans for teaching school and community IPM.
http://www.pested.msu.edu/ Exit EPA Disclaimer 

EPA Interactive Cockroach Activity Book | En español

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Other Ideas and Resources

Things You Can Do
Sites with information that individuals can use at home or work to protect the environment and themselves.

Need help with understanding environmental terminology and acronyms? Use our glossary and terminology pages for more help.

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