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School Location: White Center area of King County

Participated in the Green Schools Program: 2006–2008

Waste reduction & recycling

  • The school increased its recycling rate from 28 percent to 59 percent – an increase of 110 percent.
  • Students performed a waste audit in September 2007 to establish a baseline and then periodically measured progress throughout the year, with a final audit in May 2008.
  • A “green fact” and “green action” are posted in the school’s weekly bulletin.
  • Students made posters for each recycling station and performed skits demonstrating proper recycling and composting. The skits included “pack what you eat, and eat what you pack” messages.
  • Students assembled one in-class worm bin and two outdoor worm bins to compost food and yard waste.
  • The school contracted with Cedar Grove Composting for weekly pick-up of compostable materials. Students labeled containers and educated the community about how to separate the compostable items.
  • The school purchases paper products and utensils that are acceptable to Cedar Grove for composting.
  • Students reduced waste by installing paper reuse stations in each classroom and educating the community about the importance of using both sides of the paper.
  • Most students bring their lunches in reusable lunchboxes and reuse their utensils.
Explorer West students conduct a trash audit
Students at Explorer West Middle School conduct a trash audit in 2007.

Water conservation

  • Students made posters for bathroom sinks encouraging water conservation.
  • Students received free shower timers from Seattle Climate Action Network.
  • Faucet aerators were installed in bathroom and classroom sinks.
  • Drought resistant plants are used in the school’s native garden, which was designed and installed by students. (The benches in the garden are made from a variety of northwest native stones.)

Energy conservation

  • Students performed an energy audit in September 2007 to establish a baseline of energy use.
  • Students made posters for doors and lights reminding people to conserve.
  • Thermostats were reprogrammed to be more efficient.
  • Students worked with a representative from Seattle City Light (SCL) to better understand energy consumption and promote conservation at home and at school, and received free compact fluorescent light bulbs from SCL to install at school and at home.
  • In the 2008-09 school year, Explorer West is conducting an extensive energy and carbon footprint audit.

Transportation choices and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

  • Students held an Alternative Transportation Day to encourage carpooling, walking and bicycling.
  • Regular “no idling” reminders are sent to parents and students.
  • As part of their Earth Science class, eighth graders reduced their annual carbon footprint by an average of 10 percent through the following efforts: carpooling and walking, washing laundry in cold water, hanging laundry to dry, and reducing shower time. (All students were given shower timers.)
Explorer West students plant in school garden
Students at Explorer West Middle School plant in the school garden.

Environmental education

  • The school has held an annual Sustainability Festival for the past three years. The theme for 2007-2008 was Sustainable Design and Structures.
  • The school committed the first two weeks of the 2007-2008 academic year to outdoor education and sustainability curriculum, including faculty in-service, student workshops, and student-led lessons for parents.
  • The eighth grade Earth Science and Global Studies classes have integrated concepts of sustainability with each other. Art, Music, Latin, English, and Math integrated the Sustainable Design and Structures theme into individual curricula for the 2007-2008 year.
  • A "green fact" and "green action", posted in the school´s weekly bulletin, include information about waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, energy and water conservation, transportation choices and other conservation areas.
  • Students were given credit for attending Seattle´s Green Festival, Green My Ride, and Sustainable West Seattle events.
  • Students hosted a booth at the Sustainable West Seattle event in May 2008.
  • Eighth grade students researched and wrote articles for the annual Sustainability ´Zine.
  • The Global Studies teacher has presented at local and national conferences on issues of sustainability and curriculum


  • Explorer West Middle School was recognized as a King County Earth Hero in 2007.
  • Explorer West´s Sustainability Initiative was recognized nationally by the National Association of Independent Schools as one of three Leading Edge Schools for Environmental Sustainability in 2007.


"We knew what we wanted to do, and our King County Green Schools liaison helped us with resources and logistics. She was enthusiastic and helped us to integrate our recycling and composting program into the ethos of the school." - Kristin Moore, Science Department Chair, Explorer West Middle School

For more information about this school´s participation in the King County Green Schools Program, contact:

Kristin Moore, Teacher
Telephone: 206-935-0495
Contact Us

 Call: 206-477-4466

TTY Relay: 711

Fax: 206-296-0197

King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal