You don't need to be an environmental educator, you don't have to stray from traditional norms, or be on the cutting edge to incorporate place-based education into your daily practice as a teacher. The goal is to create connections, connections to what the learners already know about the world around them. Activate their prior knowledge.
One of my most effective teachers was in college. In fact for most of the courses we never left the dark art history classroom, where a huge screen usually displayed two slides at a time. All of his lectures and courses were about art created during the Baroque period or before. What Professor Grillo did do was make correlations to what was happening in the world during the time the art work was created with what was going on in the world as we sat in our chairs and took notes. He compared and contrasted the socioeconomics of the times, the technology, the relationships between the artists and the commissioners. We, the students, had a deeper understanding of history because we could use ourselves and our place in history as a reference point.
Using the creek that runs behind the school yard is a wonderful opportunity to teach so many things, but a teacher does not need to start there. Simply comparing your latitude on a map in relationship to the country you are studying is a way to make a simple connection and a reference point from which you can compare and contrast.