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Looking for an idea to help promote waste prevention and recycling in your school? Here are some examples from elementary school Green Teams in King County.

Plant a native garden

With the support of teachers Liza Rickey and Ellen Ferrin, fourth and fifth grade students at Clark Elementary in Issaquah prepared a field guide to the school’s native garden and staffed information booths at the school’s watershed festival.  Water quality awareness, increased community pride, and environmental stewardship are just some of the noticeable outcomes stemming from their efforts. 

Fourth and fifth grade students led by Debbie Sells and Kathy Gundlach at Martin Sortun Elementary in Kent created native plant gardens on the school grounds. Through the use of educational art, the young gardeners illustrated the connection between native plants and healthy watershed ecosystems.

To help reduce the school’s ecological footprint, three classrooms at Thoreau Elementary in Kirkland teamed-up to plant over 200 native plants on school grounds.

Launch a school-wide campaign

Laure Thiébaux’s third-grade Green Team at the French Immersion School of Washington designed recycling posters and hung them in the school hallways; facilitated awareness by weighing and analyzing the trash created during snack and lunchtime over a one-week period; and performed recycling skits and led waste reduction games in lower-grade classrooms.

Barbara Egan’s students at Mark Twain Elementary  in Federal Way integrated lessons on advertising with a waste reduction and recycling information campaign.  Posters and radio announcements were used to convince the student population that buying individually packaged food items wasted natural resources and took up landfill space

Scenic Hill Elementary Green Team students in Kent, under the guidance of custodian Ginger Ott, reduced their school’s power usage by nine percent through a simple campaign. “Turn off the lights” handprints were made by the students and placed near all light switches and doorways in the school.  This project was a follow-up to last year’s successful school-wide campaign to reduce garbage and increase recycling.

Jennifer Gjurasic's fourth-grade team at Snoqualmie Elementary began Waste Free Wednesdays at their school. On Wednesdays, students are encouraged to think carefully about the lunch items they select in order to leave no waste after eating.

Under Leah McIntyre's supervision, the fifth-grade team at Terminal Park Elementary in Auburn presented information about reducing, reusing, and recycling to the entire student body. They produced games on PowerPoint, designed posters, and created skits. They also developed public service announcements to get the word out about conserving resources.

Involve the community

Students advised by Kristin Wobker at Benjamin Franklin Elementary in Kirkland conducted a variety of school-wide projects for Earth Day, including organizing a Waste Free Lunch Day and decorating over 500 grocery bags for distribution at the local Red Apple. Ms. Wobker and fellow teacher Kate Berten received a Green Team mini-grant to purchase safety vests for Green Team members as they pick up litter around the community and help remove invasive plants at Bridle Trails Park.

Chris Andrews and fourth and fifth grade students at Mirror Lake Elementary in Federal Way are doing their part to keep unnecessary waste out of the landfills by managing a printer cartridge recycling program for their school and local business community.

A Brownie Girl Scout Troop led by April Carl at Weshill Elementary in Bothell built a 3-bin compost structure for their community garden to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill. They also learned about the importance of native mason bees in the local ecosystem.

Reduce waste and improve recycling

Fourth-grade students in Belinda Feller’s classroom at Cherry Valley Elementary in Riverview significantly cut down the school’s paper waste by making and placing reuse bins in every classroom.  They also successfully eliminated the use of polystyrene trays and plastic eating utensils in their cafeteria.

The Earth Savers Club at Eagle Rock Multi-Age School and their advisor Deborah Edwards successfully lobbied the school district superintendent to obtain recycling service for the school. The school received new recycling bins, and also started a lunchroom recycling program that includes milk cartons and juice boxes.

Keith Matthews and his fourth-grade Green Team at Marvista Elementary in Normandy Park started a composting program that soon expanded to seven classrooms. Students collect lunch waste each day and place it in a large worm bin donated by the local community. The compost from the worm bin is used in the classroom garden plot.

The Green Team at Nautilus Elementary led by Lisa Torres made ReUse boxes and presented one to each classroom. They even placed one in the staff workroom to really keep the staff involved in reuse and waste reduction.

To start a project of your own, find ideas in the Green Team brochureDownload PDF , 355 K. Apply for a mini-grantDownload PDF , 175 K if you need funding for your project.

Green Teams are important participants in the success of many of the county's Green Schools. Several were recognized as Earth Heroes at School.

Earth Smart water bottle
A Westhill Elementary Brownie Girl Scout learns how to build a compost bin with help from a volunteer carpenter.
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King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal