Get Ready: Green Apple Day of Service is Right Around the Corner

Green Apple Day is for Kids, Schools, and the Professional Cleaning Industry

September 26, 2015, is a big day for green advocates throughout North America. And this is true as well in many other parts of the world, including such diverse locations as Mumbai, India; Munich, Germany; and St. Petersburg, Russia. That is when Green Apple Day of Service, an annual event first held in 2012, takes place.

The worldwide event is an initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Center for Green Schools, and its goal, according to Emily Riordan with the USGBC, is for students, teachers, parents, businesses, organizations, and the community at large to host a wide range of service projects that improve the conditions, cleanliness, and health of the facilities in which our children learn.

In the United States, nearly a quarter of the population—students and adults—use schools every day. “Yet instead of being places for opportunity and progress, too many of our school environments are in desperate need of repairs,” says Riordan. “Our students and our teachers deserve better, and the Green Apple Day of Service puts the power to transform these places into the hands of the people that know them best: students, staff, and the community.”*

Apparently many people agree with Riordan and have gotten on the bandwagon. The first Green Apple Day of Service involved about 1,000 projects and nearly 100,000 volunteers. Although these numbers are certainly admirable for a new program, by 2013 those numbers had doubled to more than 2,000 community-sponsored events held in 41 countries and involving more than 200,000 volunteers.

The USGBC interprets this growth as an indication of the interest in and need communities feel for cleaner and healthier schools. On Green Apple Day, says the USGBC, “advocates around the world can come together in support of healthy, sustainable schools and take action in their communities.”

Further, according to the Green Apple organization, the event brings together “individuals and communities to make changes in their schools and surrounding areas.” (See sidebar: “Why Apples?”)

As Green Apple Day of Service has grown, the USGBC has developed several categories of service projects in which volunteers can get involved:

Energy conservation. These projects explore ways to improve energy efficiency in school facilities and investigate alternative energy sources. Students, teachers, and other volunteers are instructed on how to conduct energy audits as one way to determine how much energy is being used in a facility, where it is used, and how it can be reduced or used more efficiently.

Education. Free educational programs are provided so that all segments of a community can learn the importance of keeping educational facilities clean and healthy.

Water efficiency. Droughts and water shortages are occurring in many countries around the world including in the U.S. Using water more responsibly and efficiently is now a global issue in both water-rich and water-poor countries. Projects in this category may include raising awareness of these issues through such measures as creating signage to remind building users to use water sensibly. Other projects involve replacing older, less-water-efficient fixtures with newer fixtures that reduce water consumption.

Recycling. Communities are encouraged to have waste-free days, which can raise awareness about how much waste is disposed of each day, much of which ends up in landfills.

Custodial Training. This is a perfect day for a refresher on custodial training to ensure cleaning professionals are performing their duties in the safest, most effective, and most environmentally responsible manner possible..

The USGBC has also developed programs for parents and others who want to be involved in the day of service but are hard-pressed to find the time. It suggests such things as hosting a coffee social at a home, a coffee shop, or an office where people can discuss the need for healthier, cleaner, and safer schools. According to Riordan, even conversations like this can help kick-start new programs that “move communities toward greater energy efficiency, improved indoor health, learning, and more.”

Sidebar: Why Apples?

“An apple for the teacher”? Have you ever wondered why apples are so often associated with education? It appears to have originated in Denmark and Sweden sometime in the 1700s. At that time, families without money paid teachers with apples. North Americans adopted the tradition of giving apples to teachers in the 1920s, but they were more a gift or sign of gratitude than a formal payment.