The King County Green Schools Program this month is recognizing three schools for reducing waste and conserving energy – the latest of the more than 300 K-12 schools and school districts whose students and employees have learned about and improved resource conservation through the program.
StorySchools from 34 King County cities and unincorporated areas are reducing waste and recycling, conserving energy, water, and other resources, and cutting costs with help from the King County Green Schools Program. The program provides hands-on help, guidance for student Green Teams, and the tools schools need – such as information, indoor recycling bins, and a variety of conservation signs – to initiate and expand conservation practices.
“Our comprehensive program helps lay the foundation for a lifetime of resource conservation by students and their families as well as by school and district employees,” said Pat D. McLaughlin, director of the King County Solid Waste Division.
The program helps teach students and staff to only recycle materials they know can be recycled. To reduce contamination in recycling bins and ensure collected materials are marketable, messages such as “no liquids, no food, and no plastic bags in recycling bins” are emphasized. When schools work on energy or water conservation, students and staff learn about everyday practices to conserve energy and water. Students in turn bring these lessons home.
“The schools we’re recognizing this month have active student teams focused on resource conservation, and have improved sustainable practices such as reducing paper use, decreasing food waste, recycling, and conserving energy, all of which reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change,” said Dale Alekel, Green Schools Program manager.
In addition to the Green Schools Program, King County offers educational programs including an elementary school assembly and grade 1-12 classroom workshops about conservation.
The program has served a growing number of schools each year - from three schools in 2003 to 318 schools as of February 2020 – that is 64 percent of the K-12 schools in King County outside the City of Seattle. More than 195,000 students in those schools have had opportunities to learn about conservation and engage in conservation practices through the program. In addition, 14 school districts have received assistance from the program.
Learn more by contacting Alekel at 206-477-5267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Level Two (energy conservation)
Gibson Ek High School (Issaquah School District) was recognized as a Level Two Green School for maintaining and building on its Level One waste reduction and recycling practices and learning about and improving energy conservation actions. To expand its waste reduction practices, in 2019 the school began to donate unopened, packaged items to a local food bank.
During Earth Month in 2019, one week was dedicated to energy conservation messages. In 2019-20, a staff member is leading a Green New Deal course focused on energy. The class is learning about the impact of shifts in energy sources. Students have completed research papers on climate change, put together an art show with pieces about climate change, and conducted a campaign to reduce single-use bottles at school and to-go containers at nearby restaurants.
Signs were posted in classrooms and on electronic equipment to remind students and staff to turn off lights in unoccupied spaces and turn off equipment when not in use. Also, computers are programmed to shut down at 6:30 p.m. each day and the district’s contract with a soft drink company specifies that vending machine display lights are turned off permanently.
Level One (waste reduction and recycling)
Bellevue Montessori School (Bellevue) started to collect compostable materials in 2019-20 for transport to a regional composting facility. Students delivered compost collection bins to classrooms, taught each class about the benefits of recycling and composting and how to sort materials into appropriate bins. Students also formed teams to monitor recycling, composting, and other conservation practices. To reduce paper use, electronic curriculum modules replaced paper workbooks; the school has a policy on double-sided photocopying and printing; and all newsletters are sent via email. No lunch trays are used. The school’s food delivery company provides compostable plates and utensils. To reduce food waste, students are encouraged to “take or bring only what you will eat.” To support recycling, the school purchases paper, paper towels, and other products made from recyclable materials.
At Crystal Springs Elementary School (Northshore School District), Green Tips on conservation practices such as how to pack a waste-free lunch are shared daily with the school community during morning announcements. Students created and shared with the school a video on how to sort waste and recyclable materials. The King County elementary school assembly program was shown at the school, and four classrooms participated in King County classroom workshops. Recycling signs were posted in classrooms and hallways. The school uses durable, reusable trays and utensils. Silverware Superheroes, a group of first-grade students, reminded all students to set aside the durable utensils for washing and reuse. The school’s PTSA purchased durable water bottles for each student. Unwanted books, whiteboards, etc. are used by other teachers or donated instead of disposed.
• King County Green Schools Program
Our comprehensive program helps lay the foundation for a lifetime of resource conservation by students and their families as well as by school and district employees.The schools we’re recognizing have active student teams focused on resource conservation and have improved sustainable practices such as reducing paper use, decreasing food waste, recycling, and conserving energy, all of which reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Doug Williams, 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.