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Pathways to Sustainability

Pathways, or environmental focus areas, are the vehicles that your student-led Eco-Action Team will use to address school sustainability.

Pathways to Sustainability

Using the results of an Environmental Audit, teams set realistic targets and concentrate on pathways that are most relevant to the school. If the Eco-Action Team isn't quite sure which pathway to address first or next, see the Environmental Checklist. This checklist includes questions for each pathway and provides teams with initial data that can inform the team's decision. Explore our Dashboard Metrics Quick Reference Guide which details the metrics associated with each pathway.

Many pathways are related to one another in some way. Water, for example, is connected to Healthy Schools, and Schoolyard Habitats is connected to Climate Change. Your school may find that by making progress on one area, you are taking steps toward improving performance in another and for this reason some schools will tackle two pathways at a time.

Utilizing the Seven Step Framework to complete pathways, students will accomplish the following objectives:

1. Apply a systems thinking lens while building content knowledge and identifying areas to improve the environmental footprint of the school.

2. Observe, measure, collect, analyze, and summarize data to develop and implement sustainable and inclusive solutions.

3. Make space to apply learning to effect change toward environmental sustainability through thoughtful activities and actions, building a sense of economic awareness, environmental responsibility, and civic engagement.

4. Cultivate meaningful, lasting relationships with the community, such as with leaders from marginalized communities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, corporations, local businesses, colleges, universities, and technical/trade schools.


Eco-Schools USA is a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNESCO’s Global Action Program (GAP). As such, we work to ensure schools are making meaningful links between their dynamic Eco-Schools work and applicable Sustainable Development Goals. Each pathway intersects with some of these goals, including the four goals that intersect with every Eco-Schools pathway: (4) Quality Education, (10) Reduced Inequalities, (13) Climate Action, and (17) Partnerships for the Goals.

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