Wintergreen is a perfect location for teaching youth and adults about how our day-to-day living affects the environment. At Wintergreen, we use sustainable building techniques, source much of our food locally (including food from our own gardens), and make use of renewable energy. It is a working model of how a centre can function in a way that is respectful of the environment – but not obsessed about every detail! We like to think of ourselves as “principled, but not perfect.” Many of the techniques we use can be integrated into homes, workplaces, and schools.
The resources below are recommended for teachers, for parents, and for anyone interested in learning more about how our actions affect the earth.
Click and enjoy!
This document contains some of the design principles used to create the Wintergreen lodge and outbuildings. Beginning with the notion that reducing consumption is key, along with the value of thermal mass and insulation, the buildings were designed to be aesthetically pleasing and to demand less from the environment than conventional buildings. By using an off-grid solar system alone, we avoid spewing over 1.9 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere each year.
The Ontario Curriculum guidelines for Environmental Education. Mostly a compilation of resources reflecting what exists in the other Curriculum guidelines, but also provides a good overview of how to integrate various subject guidelines through an environmental lens.
Simple Abundance Learning Series
The Simple Abundance Learning Series, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, is comprised of five workshops and a self-guided sustainability tour (you have to come to Wintergreen to do the tour). Two of our most popular workshops are also available in French* (see below). The Natural and Sustainable Building and Cordwood materials were supported by the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
*Here is an informative webpage with a glossary of French terms pertaining to sustainable development.
Wintergreen staff and volunteers can present any or all of the five workshops for you (contact Karen Smereka, Education Coordinator, at email@example.com). Or you can download them and explore them on your own.
Simple Abundance Workshops:
5. Natural and Sustainable Building (only available as a Prezi, see below — the images of the beautiful natural buildings are just too big for PowerPoint!). A related resource about sustainable building is our workshop materials on cordwood building, which you can download here.
Population activity – get students thinking about the global distribution of population and with it resources: click here for pdf
Japanese Viewing Party – an activity designed by The Institute for Earth Education, emphasizing solitude, non-verbal skills, and connection with nature and life: click here for pdf
For an interactive site on population, education, health, energy, etc., see http://show.mappingworlds.com/
Another great site with global comparisons is here.
There are some terrific online tools for calculating our ecological footprints. Try www.myfootprint.org or http://calc.zerofootprint.net/youth/ for younger students. (If the link doesn’t work, cut and paste it into your browser.)
If you are working with students, after they’ve calculated their footprint, you might refer to the following five categories and explanations as to how the footprint calculations are derived:
1. TRANSPORTATION (measures greenhouse gas impacts of gars, public buses, airplane travel, etc., and the amount of land converted as roads are built as a result of travel)
2. HOME AND WORK (carbon emissions used to heat homes and schools and workplaces and to provide hot water. Measures the land that the buildings occupy, water required, and waste)
3. WHAT YOU EAT (measures the amount of land and water required to grow and transport food, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the waste generated from convenience and fast foods)
Click on the image below to see a fabulous video (produced by Hellman’s) about the impact of eating food that comes “from away.”
4. WHAT YOU USE (measures greenhouse gas emissions from the energy used to run appliances as well as the impact of goods produced including newspapers, magazines, clothes etc.)
5. WHAT YOU THROW AWAY (measures land required to dispose of household garbage and the volume of greenhouse gases released.)
Click below to view a Prezi about the ways that we have manufactured a demand for bottled water (and caused untold environmental harm in the process).
Connecting with Nature
An excellent series of curriculum guides for Kindergarten through to the Intermediate grades. Easy to follow and lesson ideas with real punch. Download it directly from the David Suzuki Foundation website.
The Story of Stuff
This is a 20-minute animated video about consumption. Simply the most powerful explanation of consumption and waste that we have ever encountered. Accessible to students Grade 6 and older (or younger, in some cases!). See the video below or download it directly from their website at http://www.storyofstuff.org.
A resource from the US based National Education Energy Development Project (NEED) using current energy data. Activities for elementary, intermediate, and secondary levels with lesson plans, materials, and answer keys. Works well in the Canadian context except for the gas mileage question (although it is a great opportunity to convert imperial to metric!). This was used as one of the resources for a workshop on mathematics and the environment held at Wintergreen in May, 2012, as part of the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education (OAME) annual conference.
In case your school (or apartment) doesn’t have a gardening area, you can always garden in bags, bales, and pallets. See the Prezi below for unique (and beautiful) ways of growing greens anywhere!
Much more information – including incredible curriculum materials – about school gardens can be gleaned from the Edible Schoolyard website at http://edibleschoolyard.org/. We can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is…
An effective way of dealing with waste is the food digester known as the “Green Cone” – and it was invented in Canada! The document is aimed at schools, and is very instructive in terms of how to integrate food studies into the curriculum. To learn more about Green Cones, visit http://www.greencone.ca.
A comprehensive (181 page) guide to “greening” a school in Ontario – or anywhere else, for that matter! Topics include benefits to schools, a detailed planning guide, ideas for designing and building (e.g., water use reduction, energy saving, materials and waste, outdoor greening), occupying and operating a green school (including curriculum implications) and detailed reference materials (including benchmarks for energy and water use).
Raising a School
OK, this one isn’t downloadable! But if you’re interested in a book about school architecture and the environment, written by Wintergreen’s own Rena Upitis and published through Wintergreen Press, click here for more information.