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King County Green Schools Program has now helped more than 300 schools

Summary

The King County Green Schools Program this month is recognizing four schools for increasing recycling, reducing food waste, and conserving energy and water – the latest in the more than 300 K-12 schools and school districts whose employees and students have learned about and practiced resource conservation through the program.

Story

Schools from across King County are reducing waste, increasing recycling, conserving resources, and cutting costs with help from the King County Green Schools Program, which provides the guidance, hands-on help, and tools such as recycling containers and signs that schools need to make improvements.

The program has served a growing number of schools each year – from 70 schools in 2008 to 305 schools this month – that’s 61 percent of the K-12 schools in 36 King County cities and unincorporated areas outside Seattle.  More than 155,000 students in those 305 schools have had opportunities to learn about conservation and engage in conservation practices through the program.

“We are honored to recognize four schools this month for their contributions toward our goal of a 70 percent recycling rate as they guide their students and employees in conserving valuable natural resources,” said Pat D. McLaughlin, director of the King County Solid Waste Division. 

Of the 305 schools that have participated in the program, 258 schools have been recognized as Level One King County Green Schools for their waste reduction and recycling practices. 

The program also has recognized 153 schools for Level Two energy conservation practices; 114 schools for Level Three water conservation and pollution prevention practices; and 70 schools as Sustaining Green Schools for maintaining and building on their Level One through Level Three practices. 

The program helps teach K-12 students and employees to only recycle materials they know can be recycled. To reduce contamination in recycling bins and ensure markets for the collected recyclable materials, important messages such as “no liquids or food in recycling bins” are emphasized. Students in turn take those lessons home.

“The four schools we’re recognizing this month expanded their sustainable practices by encouraging students and employees to reduce paper use and food waste,  recycle, conserve energy, or conserve water, all of which reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change,” said Dale Alekel, King County Green Schools Program manager.

In addition to Green Schools Program assistance, King County offers an elementary school assembly program and classroom workshops for grades 1–12 to teach students about conservation. 

Learn more by contacting Alekel at 206-477-5267 or dale.alekel@kingcounty.gov.  

School recognition

At Montessori Children’s House in Redmond, elementary school classes learned about connections between food and water use. In the school’s on-site wetland, students observed, tested water supply, and recorded changes. Students learned about stormwater management by visiting the school’s nature trail, and the school reduced water use by planting plants that require minimal watering and by installing low-flow fixtures when replacing older toilets. King County recognized this school as a Level Three Green School for maintaining its recycling rate of 55 percent and continuing energy conservation practices while learning about and engaging in water conservation and pollution prevention practices.

Moorlands Elementary School in Northshore School District was recognized as a King County Level Three Green School. Each month, the school shared water conservation tips with each class. Students learned about the life cycle of plants by sowing, tending, and harvesting produce in the school’s raised garden beds. Fourth-grade classes learned about environmental stewardship by raising coho salmon in the school’s salmon tank and then releasing them into Puget Sound. At the start of the school year, students signed pledges committing to various water conervation actions. Moorlands installed a rainbarrel to collect water to irrigate the school’s garden. Signs encouraging students to soap up their hands before rinsing were posted next to bathroom and classroom sinks. The school also maintained its 48 percent recycling rate by reducing waste and recycling.  

Bellevue Children’s Academy achieved King County Level Two Green School recognition for energy conservation, and also tackled water conservation and pollution prevention to meet Level Three criteria. Students pledged to conserve energy by signing their names on the school’s Energy Pledge Wall. Fourth-grade classes completed an energy unit where they learned about energy conservation practices. Kindergartners calculated their carbon footprints and created footprint diagrams highlighting where energy can be conserved. Each day, students were assigned the classroom job of turning off lights in empty rooms. 

Meanwhile, the school also maintained a recycling rate of 66 percent and engaged students in water conservation and pollution prevention practices. Students pledged to conserve water by signing their names on the school’s Water Pledge Wall. First- and second-grade classes learned about dams during a hydro-energy unit. Green Team students created water conservation signs which were posted next to all school faucets to remind students to turn off the water when not in use. 

Juanita Elementary School in Lake Washington School District earned recognition as a King County Level One Green School by expanding its waste reduction and recycling practices to achieve a recycling rate of 55 percent. To educate and engage students and employees in conservation practices, Juanita held an all-school Going Green Together assembly provided by King County at the start of the 2018-19 school year. Tips for reducing food waste were included in weekly announcements and the school newsletter. Third-grade students led an initiative to collect food scraps from classrooms for composting at a regional composting facility. During classes and lunch, teachers and lunchroom employees demonstrated how to properly sort materials. On recycling bins throughout the school, students placed stickers provided by King County Green Schools Program listing what can and can’t be recycled. In its lunchroom, the school replaced all disposable plastic trays with reusable durable trays.

RELEVANT LINKS
King County Green Schools Program

 

 

We are honored to recognize four schools this month for their contributions toward our goal of a 70 percent recycling rate as they guide their students and employees in conserving valuable natural resources.

Pat McLaughlin, Director, Solid Waste Division

 

 

 

The four schools we’re recognizing this month expanded their sustainable practices by encouraging students and employees to reduce paper use and food waste, recycle, conserve energy, or conserve water, all of which reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.” 

Dale Alekel, King County Green Schools Program manager

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Doug Williams, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, 206-477-4543

About the King County Solid Waste Division
The Solid Waste Division provides environmentally responsible solid waste transfer and disposal services in King County. The division operates eight transfer stations, two rural drop boxes, and the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill – the only operational landfill in the county. Our stakeholders include residents and business owners in unincorporated King County and 37 cities throughout the county. We work closely with our stakeholders to continue our national leadership in waste prevention, resource recovery, and waste disposal.