Since 1987, over 200,000 college students have signed the Graduation Pledge, which states:
I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.
Simple. Unambiguous. Daring.
Over 100 colleges and universities have chapters of the Graduation Pledge Alliance (or GPA, a fortuitous acronym for students) in the U.S. and abroad. Students who sign the pledge wear green ribbons on their graduation gowns as a visual means of marking their commitment.
It’s time for a high school equivalent. Since high school seniors are contemplating college rather than a job, I suggest a slight re-wording of the college pledge to fit these circumstances.
I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any college, university, or employer I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any institution which I attend or for which I work.
High school students spend an inordinate amount of time fussing over college essays, talking with parents, family, friends, and counselors about prospective institutions, visiting campuses, and quizzing college alumni. But I wonder how many of them consider the environmental practices of a place they where they may plop down as much as a quarter of a million dollars over the next four years?
To their credit, many institutions of higher education engage in a number of green practices. Student and employee campus activists often lead the charge in changing a school’s environmental practices. Yet some places do it better than others, and why should this not be a consideration for the environmentally aware?
Peruse any school’s web site and you are likely to find a section on sustainability or “green practices.” Not finding one should set off alarm bells. The Princeton Review offers a list of what it considers to be the greenest schools. Likewise, the Sierra Club Magazine offers an annual list of best green colleges. But rather than rely on such rankings, the college-bound should simply be mindful when they speak with college representatives and visit campuses to ask about and observe what is going on.
How about it high schoolers? Want to start a national movement?