The Precautionary Principle

In my research for my upcoming book, I’ve been looking into Green Schools. I found a great site that defined the precautionary principle in environmental health. We should be using this principle to guide all our decisions, but specifically those pertaining to children.

From The Little Green Schoolhouse,

The Precautionary Principle promotes policies and decision–making based on the concept of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Rather than waiting for crises to occur, a proactive approach to addressing the issues of children’s environmental health and the ecological impacts of schools can be based on the Precautionary Principle. Such an approach would:

*Take anticipatory action to prevent harm;
*Place the burden of proof on the proponent of a potentially harmful activity;
*Examine a full range of alternatives;
*Provide relevant communities with the right to know about potential harm; and
*Consider all the reasonably foreseeable costs of an activity.
*A growing number of cities, including San Francisco, have adopted the Precautionary Principle as guidance for a range of decisions to promote environmental health and safety, to reduce costs, and to promote sustainability in government practices, including switching to non–toxic cleaners and environmentally sound purchasing.

The Los Angeles Unified School District adopted the Precautionary Principle as the foundation for its decision to provide the safest, least toxic approach to pest problems after children exposed to chemical herbicides suffered serious asthma attacks.”

I am glad to find this spelled out so clearly. I feel our government, our schools and businesses should use this as a guiding principal to inform all of their (our) decisions.

One Response to The Precautionary Principle

  1. Green Fundraising May 20, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    I couldn’t agree more. Not only do we help schools raise funds through our green fundraising programs, but we also act as a resource for schools looking to “go green”. Since we speak with so many schools like them, we often have tips that other schools have experienced in the greening process.

    One precautionary tale that comes to mind is a blog post I read from a Mother’s perspective when searching for a school for her children. She walked around schools smelling for “off or hazardous smells”. Like strong cleaning solvents that impair the air quality. She said, “clean doesn’t have to smell.” She is right..that stuck with me.

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