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Protect: Indoor Air Quality 


New research shows that indoor plants don’t clean indoor air effectively.

A summary of the study here explains that past studies done in laboratory settings don’t match conditions in normal classrooms where you'd need close to 10 plants per square foot before they could approximate cleaning the air at the same rate it’s removed via exchange with outdoor air. The authors recommend future research efforts shift to environments that have the basic indoor process of exchanging air with the outside. Until then, if you want cleaner indoor air, the authors recommend opening a window. Read the full article here. 

Starting in Award Year 2021, Green Steps can no longer accept “Plants in the Classroom" as an Indoor Air Quality Project. We hope students will continue to make upcycled planters as a “Conserve: Reuse” project and fill them with plants that have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood and mental health and can help students learn more about plants and ecology.


Ask your mentor to do a presentation, then click on these links to learn more about indoor air quality at schools.


 Plant Projects

  • Help students propagate plants (reuse plastic bottles as rooting containers).
  • Help students transfer these propagated plants into self-watering containers they engineer from plastic bottles.
  • Set the self-watering planters inside steel cafeteria cans and attach these plant labels.
  • Help students make potting soil by thoroughly mixing a 40 lb bag of cheap potting soil, one bag of Perlite and a handful of compost from the students’ compost bins.
  • Hold a plant sale once a year (staff and students can gift a plant to someone who has helped them grow as a person during the school year).
  • Help students create a “Green Cross Club” to swap out plants that are not thriving and try to nurse them back to health.
  • In January, collect left-over poinsettias, which function as great indoor air-quality plants.


Ideas for sharing student indoor air quality knowledge

  • Broadcast on school news shows 
  • Create and display hallway posters 
  • Film and share informational videos 
  • Operate education tables at school or community events 

Document Project(s)

Sample Project: Make a Self-Watering Planter



701 Gervais St., Suite 150-538

Columbia, SC 29201-3066


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