(ARA) – We’re becoming increasingly aware of the impact that our actions have on the environment and our quality of life, but sadly while many of our homes and buildings are being built and modernized to be greener, many of our children’s schools continue to waste energy and contain materials that are toxic to kids health. In fact most schools spend more on electricity bills than on books and computers.

Schools are beginning to join the charge to use less and be more efficient. But did you know that schools that make strides to become more environmentally friendly are often also providing better learning environments for students?

While helping the environment is definitely a key motivator, green improvements can also improve student performance by creating a healthier, more productive learning environment, providing hands-on lessons for students, and saving schools money that they can use on classroom initiatives.

Pureology has teamed up with Global Green USA to create a “green school” makeover competition where schools can enter to help improve the lives of students while educating parents, teachers, students and the public about the importance of creating healthy green classrooms. Pureology Serious Colour Care are the makers of hair care products that are 100 percent Vegan and contain organic botanicals.

Here are a few examples of how a “green school” makeover can benefit both the earth and students:

* Plant an organic, edible garden

Environmental benefit: By growing food on school grounds, a school can order less food that needs to travel long distances, saving on energy and food costs.

Learning benefit: Students get a hands-on biology lesson. Growing a garden could also encourage them to eat better, positively influencing their physical and mental development.

* Start a recycling program

Environmental benefit: Because hundreds of students and teachers occupy a school throughout the day, a recycling program can greatly reduce the amount of recyclable materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Schools could also take this a step further and institute a composting program, which could also provide fertilizer for onsite gardens.

Learning benefit: Children can learn about what items can be recycled and take those lessons home to their families. Composting provides a great platform for a science lesson.

* Use green design elements

Environmental benefit: Plain and simple, schools that use green design techniques don’t use nearly as much energy.

Learning benefits: Green buildings use non-toxic compounds that decrease the chances that students will be exposed to something that will make them sick and keep them out of school. Natural lighting and proper ventilation also help students stay healthy and maintain the proper mindset for learning.

While parents and students can encourage their schools to take a look at these eco-friendly improvements, a great way to start is by practicing them in the home. Parents can offer many of the same lessons that can be used in the classroom.

If you are looking for ways to encourage your school to go green, visit GreenSchools.Pureology.com. In addition to providing guidance on different types of green upgrades, visitors can find information about Global Green USA’s Green School Makeover Competition Presented by Pureology. The contest allows students and parents to work with school administrators to complete applications that detail what kind of green improvements their schools need. The winning school will receive a comprehensive green makeover, and four finalists will each receive $2,500 for sustainable upgrades. Even for those schools that don’t take home prizes, the application provides a great way for schools to begin the conversation about making their schools more sustainable.

In the short run, green schools go a long way toward reducing the amount of energy we use. But in the long run, students who learn how to lead more sustainable lives will help guarantee that subsequent generations have a safe and healthy place to live.