Schools across the country are getting eco-friendly by building with natural and recycled materials and focusing on becoming more energy-efficient. With good reason: Studies show that this reduces the incidence of asthma, colds, and flu, and improves academic performance. But major renovations aren't needed. See greenschools.net and buildgreenschools.org for ideas you can bring up with your school board. Some suggestions from Deborah Moore, executive director of the Berkeley, CA-based parent group Green Schools Initiative:
Clean green. Schools can improve air quality by switching to more effective equipment and safer cleaners. That means using products like microfiber mops that pick up dust efficiently and cleaners that don't contain skin and eye irritants or carcinogens.
Reduce pesticides. Your school can adopt a pest-management program that reduces sources of food, water, and shelter for pests. Also key: a switch to less-toxic pesticides.
Start a recycling program. Ask your school to buy paper supplies made of recycled materials and to nix Styrofoam in the lunchroom; it can't be recycled and can leach harmful chemicals into food.