Teach your kids to go green

Greening Your Child's School Day:

Here's are some family-oriented tips for reducing your carbon footprint with a school-age child, from Cool the Earth co-founder and Executive Director, Carleen Cullen:

1. Pack a No-Waste Lunch. Ever notice how much garbage is generated by your child's school's lunch? You'll save 133 lbs of carbon dioxide a year, if you pack your child's school lunch in reusable containers. You can pack drinks in reusable aluminum bottles and use eco-friendly products, like reusable sandwich wraps and cloth napkins. It's a bit more effort than using plastic baggies, but you'll save carbon money and help the planet.

2. Don't be Idle in the Car pick up line. When you're picking up your child from school, don't idle your engine. Use the 20 second rule! If your car is stationary for more than 20 seconds, turn it off to save on fuel. You'll save 240 lbs of carbon for the year and $95.

3. Lighten your footprint to School. Walking or biking to school an average of just 10 days a month reduces your carbon by 540 lbs. Take mass transit of any kind and you'll save 372 lbs. over driving alone. If you must drive alone, organize a carpool and save 270 lbs. The average American car gets 23 mpg and gives off one pound of carbon for every mile driven.

4. Shorten your child's shower by getting a shower timer. Lessen your child's school-morning shower by just two minutes and save 350 lbs of carbon and $120 a year. What does water have to do with carbon? Plenty! Just think about how much energy it takes to collect, filter, pump and heat the water. Buy your family a shower "timer" to keep everyone on the new schedule.

5. Before and after school, layer your child's clothing and turn down the thermostat. Teach your child to wear a sweater inside and lower your thermostat by 2 degrees in the winter and you'll save 2,000 lbs in carbon and $115 dollars a year. Climate control is the number one energy hog in the house. Tell the kids to wear a sweater whenever they say, "I'm cold."

About Carleen Cullen:
In 2007, parent and business entrepreneur Carleen Cullen, together with her husband Jeff, launched Cool the Earth in her children's school in Kentfield, California; the program is now reaching 150 schools and youth groups in Northern California and nationwide. Cool the Earth is a transformational school based program which educates kids and their families about climate change and gives them the tools and the knowledge to take simple, measurable actions to reduce their carbon footprint.

Carleen was inspired to take action after seeing the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Startled at what she learned, she and her husband gathered parents from their community together to watch screenings of the film and discuss solutions. They found that even when people were exposed to the realities of climate change, they could still remain lethargic, so they set about developing a program, with other parent volunteers from their community, which would motivate households to make changes instantly-what they call, 'education through action.'

Since its inception, Cool the Earth has been responsible for motivating over 45,000 energy-saving actions to be taken by over 27,000 school children and family members--eliminating 37 million pounds of carbon from the atmosphere--with positive environmental benefits for the region.

Before launching Cool the Earth, Carleen was a partner in a start up venture, Ovid Technologies, which she founded together with her brother, Mark Nelson, and grew into a successful global information technology giant in the medical and scientific markets. After expanding to include 120 employees at 5 international offices, Ovid went public (Nasdaq) in 1994 and was successfully sold in 1998. Carleen's business background, including numerous public speaking engagements to formidable international audiences, has been an asset to her in her role at Cool The Earth Inc.

For her work as executive director Carleen offers her skills as an in-kind donation. In 2008, Carleen Cullen, was the recipient of the Jefferson Award, a program of the American Institute for Public Service to honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service. In 2009 the organization won a Clean Air Award from "Breathe California," for engaging the public in climate change. CTE has also formed key public/private partnerships with the Bay Area Air District, Al Gore's Grassroots, The Climate Project, Girl Scouts of Northern California, PG&E, Marin Community Foundation, Marin Conservation Corps, Strategic Energy Innovations, Marin Municipal Water District and Safe Routes to School. Carleen has a BA in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA and graduated in 1986.

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