An Interview with Micki Josi, Co-Founder of the UFT Green Schools Committee
Q: What is the UFT's Green Schools Committee all about?
A: The UFT Green Schools Committee was formed by two teachers, Coquille Houshour and Micki Josi, in order to encourage the UFT and DOE to adhere to the city’s recycling laws and bring together like-minded teachers who are working to “green” their schools through recycling, composting, and planning lessons on sustainability. Micki and Coquille also have a blog atwww.educatingtomorrow.org.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing schools who want and must (accoding to NYC law) recycle?
A: Some of the biggest challenges facing schools that want to recycle include is a lack of funds to purchase recycling bins, institutional apathy, lack of public education on recycling including students, staff, and custodial engineers, and infrequent department of sanitation collection. In most cases it is one or more teachers in a school that take this project on voluntarily, writing grants to purchase supplies, and starting students clubs to collect materials and educate their community. Our group does not see this as a sustainable way for the entire Department of Education to adhere to the recycling laws since it relies to heavily on one individual to do a voluntary job, thus nearly 90% of NYC school do not currently recycle.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give an educator or parent looking to enforce recycling efforts at their school?
A: Speak up at school about the importance of recycling, find allies, start an environmental club or recycling program. We started out by doing these things so eventually they will want to join our group to meet a network of like-minded individuals who share their passion for recycling and waste reduction education and practices in schools. We think recycling education needs to be mandatory and wasteful practices, such as Styrofoam Trays in the cafeteria, need to be eliminated. It’s hard work if you try to do it alone, but together we can form a strong voice to push for strict regulation of the mandatory recycling laws in schools.
Q: How can folks get involved in your committee or support your efforts in some way?
A: They can contact us through our website www.educatingtomorrow.org. At the website they can read our blog, find resources, sign our petition, email us, join our google group and learn about upcoming meetings and events. They can also contact their local city council person, write a letter to the chancellor and/or mayor to let them know that they think recycling in schools is important and should be a priority.