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July 01, 2008  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

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Green at the grassroots

Everyone in school transportation knows anti-excessive idling policies are now the norm within the industry to cut down on emissions.

It is also common knowledge that school buses are being replaced routinely by the newest clean diesel engines that offer excellent environmental performance.

That’s why NAPT recently distributed a news release nationally, pointing out an important fact that every “green” media story written to date missed: Yellow is the green way to get to and from school!

Not only can parents literally reduce the family’s carbon footprint, they can figuratively move to an entirely smaller shoe size by simply insisting that their teenagers take a school bus rather than drive themselves to school.

Taking a school bus even just once a week reduces the impact high school students have on the environment. It’s also the safest way for them to get to and from school.

While using mass transit typically is high on most lists of things to help save the planet, taking a yellow school bus is never mentioned in that context. Yet increasing school bus usage should be an important part of any “we need to get more people to use mass transit” discussion.

In many communities school buses are underutilized, while roads are clogged with teenagers driving to school during rush hours. If more rode school buses, there would be environmental, safety and reduced traffic congestion benefits for the entire community. Teens could also pocket a lot of gas money to spend on other things.

Ironically, California — the state most renowned for its environmental activism and laws — has among the lowest percentage of school bus ridership in the nation. Despite energetic information efforts by the California Association of School Transportation Officials, many California parents still do not insist that their children use school buses, missing one of the easiest ways to be environmentally responsible.

Being “green” is the rage now and we are bombarded daily with messages about how we can make a difference environmentally. Everywhere, people are striving to conserve resources and reduce their “carbon footprint.” And NAPT is doing its part!

In fact, long before all the current emphasis, NAPT sought to conduct its business in ways that are as efficient as possible and contribute to environmental sustainability. Doing so involves many small steps that contribute to the aggregate societal good.

Here are some examples of things we have done or are doing that contribute at a grassroots level:

 

  • Nearly eight years ago we stopped printing a hard copy member handbook, and six years ago did the same for our newsletter, instead providing the information online.

     

  • We stopped issuing plastic membership cards and shrunk our member benefits flier to a single page.

     

  • We eliminated plastic water bottles at the annual conference and water is now provided in biodegradable cups made from recycled materials. Similarly, our annual conference program and our trade show directory have been reduced in paper quantity by half.

     

  • New NAPT members will soon receive a reusable grocery bag (to help cut down on the use of plastic bags) and a compact fluorescent light bulb as part of the materials they receive welcoming them to the association.

    Finally, much is reported in the media (often with a raised eyebrow) about how celebrities try to “offset” their use of private jets and yachts by purchasing “carbon credits” or planting trees. Well, at NAPT we don’t have any lavish lifestyle practices to feel guilty about. But we are planting trees — a lot of them — because it’s another way for our industry to make a contribution to the communities we serve.

    NAPT has recently partnered with a prominent and well-respected environmental steward to create the “NAPT Forest.” Initially, we are going to plant nearly 2,500 trees representing each of our members. Another tree will be planted thereafter every time a new member joins our association.

    In short, “green” is more than just a public relations gimmick at NAPT. It is part of our culture — individual actions that add up to a big contribution. We encourage you to join us and help us create an even safer environment for the children we all care so passionately about.

     


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