Story of stuff–How libraries can help?

carpet tiles at entry  When renovating a library or constructing a new one, there are so many things to consider that it can be rather overwhelming.

But an important thing not to lose in the shuffle is how to be a model for your school and your students of environmental stewardship.   Maybe your school can’t afford to have an LEED rated building or library, but maybe there are things that can be done to make the new space more environmentally sound.

I was reminded of the role of each of us recently, while reviewing the video Story of Stuff.    In it, Annie Leonard reminds us that the consumer chain is a lengthy one, that starts with production and ends with waste.  How can we, when redesigning a space in a school, do our small part to reduce the waste, or save energy, or reuse materials?

In our library design, for example, we tried to incorporate some environmentally friendly features.  We used carpet squares which are made of recycled products, ordered “green” furniture, used a lot of natural light, included switches that turn off lights automatically when someone leaves the room, added shades over large window areas to reduce air conditioning needs, and landscaped the courtyard with xeriscape plants that wouldn’t require as much water.  We also created built in recycling stations for students as a reminder to them to reuse materials.   Even picking things that are more durable, like wood shelving or seating reduces waste because these last longer and don’t have to be replaced as often.

Other things that you can do include reusing some items, using low VOC paints, or using wood or metal furniture(more recyclable)  instead of plastics where possible.

We are planning to have a display sharing what we did to be more environmentally friendly so that the library environment itself will be a learning tool for students.

We often do our part on the home front, at least regarding recycling, but too often on the work front, we neglect thinking about how to be good stewards and good role models to our students.   Annie Leonard’s video drove home for me how important that is to consider in every aspect of our lives.

Of course, libraries are a natural “resource” saver in that books are reused again and again for years, rather than purchased and tossed aside 😉

Consider what you can do to make your environment a more responsible part of the consumer chain.

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