TOXICS INFORMATION PROJECT (TIP)
Liberty Goodwin, Director
P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940
Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail: TIP@toxicsinfo.org
(Lighting the Way to Less Toxic Living)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2009
CONTACT: Liberty Goodwin, TIP Director, 401-351-9193
Liberty Goodwin, Director of Toxics Information Project (TIP) thinks, “Yes!” The Providence organization is focusing in 2009 on its “Healthy Schools Initiative: Getting Rid Of Toxins At Schools With Effective, Affordable Alternatives”. As part of that effort, TIP has produced a “Good Green Schools Guide”, providing resources & support to Rhode Island school maintenance directors to assist them in “going green” inside and outside their facilities. The Guide was introduced at the RI Sustainable Living Festival, June 6 & 7, where Liberty co-led a workshop called “Another Shade of Green: Protecting People’s Health in the School Environment”, with Molly Clark of ALARI. Now, the work of spreading the word and involving managers of school facilities has begun, including distribution of the Guide & forming the “Good Green Schools Gang”.
Liberty points out that, “A ‘Green’ school goes beyond energy issues to include healthy indoor air quality (IAQ), cleaning and grounds care. Children run, play and roll around on playgrounds & playing fields. We must make sure they aren’t exposed to toxins there that can trigger asthma attacks or contribute to learning disabilities, endocrine disruption and/or childhood cancer. Sadly, indoor air & fumes from cleaning products can be just as unhealthy. There are very significant rates of asthma among school custodial staff and teachers, as well as children. Chemicals found in cleaning materials, pesticides and fragrances are known asthma triggers. (Some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke that also used in fragrance)”
Some of the products of concern include not merely cleaners, hand sanitizers & antibacterials & pesticides, but whiteboard markers, “Smencils”, rubber mulch and artificial turf. There is rampant “greenwashing” that has become almost a national sport, Liberty contends - companies loudly proclaiming themselves as “environmentally friendly” while peddling poisoned products galore. In addition, serious lacks in regulation and testing of chemicals used in consumer products add to our risks. Finally, there is the problem of “huffing” - using everyday products as inhalants for the purpose of getting high - at risk of getting sick, or even dead.
“However”, she says, “good solutions exist, & are being used around the country. The Healthy Schools Initiative is bringing those solutions to schools around RI. ’Green’ means better student scores, asthma-free kids and staff. Opportunities abound for true ‘greening’ of our schools. The new Good Green Schools Guide & its resource listings can help you advocate with school facilities decision-makers for transitioning to healthy, people & kid-friendly schools in your neighborhood. We are urging people to participate in bringing this vision to life in their neck of the educational woods. They can do this in a variety of ways.”
Choosing to be a green school can be done! Facilities managers around the country are successfully making the change to green practices and products. TIP seeks to accomplish this goal by the following means:
1. THE GOOD GREEN SCHOOLS GUIDE, For Safer, Healthier, Kid-Friendly Environments
Passing along the GGS Guide will be done by:
a. Parents, teachers and other school personnel bringing it to schools.
b. Making it available at selected larger libraries around the state in the children’s sections. So far, copies have been placed at Rochambeau in Providence, Barrington, Lincoln & Woonsocket. (Charlestown, Cranston, Cumberland, Greenville, North Providence, South Kingstown, Warwick, Westerly, and others should have some soon)c. The GGS Guide may be found online for viewing and downloading at the TIP website: www.toxicsinfo.org/healthyschools.htm
d. Offering “Another Shade of Green” talks to interested groups.
2. THE “GOOD GREEN SCHOOLS GANG”: In addition, plans are underway to bring together those managing RI school facilities to share experiences, challenges, successes - ways to do both green cleaning and organic grounds care more effectively and ways to save money while enhancing the health of staff and students. GC Facilities Manager Chris Suchmann, an enthusiastic & knowledgeable advocate of health-friendly building & grounds care, is working with Ms. Goodwin on the project. They will seek to find the best means for maintenance directors to help each other with problems and questions.
3. LEGISLATION: Efforts are being made legislatively to require green cleaning in all RI schools. Rep. Gus Silva of Central Falls has introduced a school green cleaning bill, H5358. TIP and its supporters are calling for a Sub A (amended version) of the bill, that would specify the use of third party certification of cleaners in RI schools. Connecticut just passed such a bill, New York has had a green cleaning in schools law since 2007, and other states are moving to take action or have already done so. Most are utilizing Green Seal or EcoLogo certification, which ensures products have been independently tested vs. standards of toxicity/safety and effectiveness.
THE GOOD NEWS: The surprisingly good news re: all this - not only less asthma and other health problems and less absenteeism - but lower costs can be achieved, if done properly. Clearly a win-win-win - for people, the environment & the school budget.